The Buffalo Bills are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl in February but Dennice Barr has other priorities as winter approaches.
Barr is a community leader in the Fruit Belt, an historic but deprived majority African American area near downtown Buffalo. With a median household income of under $28,000, a ticket to an NFL game is out of reach for many residents. As the cost of living soars and the weather worsens they are more focused on access to food and heating.
Named for the orchards planted in the 1800s by German immigrants, the Fruit Belt became popular with Black arrivals in the 1950s but its character and prosperity were devastated by a new expressway that barrels through the neighborhood; dividing the community, Barr said, “for the benefit of white flight”.
In the 1960s the Bills played on the northern fringe of the Fruit Belt in the oval War Memorial Stadium, nicknamed The Rockpile. Some of the imposing old classical-style facades remain, evoking a faded grandeur.