A Look at a Potential new Stadium for the Bills

A Look at a Potential new Stadium for the Bills

by February 6, 2019 1 comment

For the last several years, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Buffalo Bills franchise was their location.

Whether it be the ongoing debate of whether or not New Era Field is an appropriate home for Buffalo’s football team, or the relocation scare during the ownership change, the team’s current home in Orchard Park has been under attack for a while.

Some of the criticism comes for good reason. The Democrat and Chronicle reported in 2017 that “A 2014 state-funded study to renovate New Era Field for what would be an eighth time put the cost at $540 million, which would include needed structural work to the upper deck. That’s half of what a new stadium would cost.”

The old Ralph Wilson Stadium, which opened as Rich Stadium in 1973, is the NFL’s sixth-oldest stadium still in active league use, behind LA Memorial Coliseum (Rams), Soldier Field (Bears), Lambeau Field (Packers), Oakland Coliseum (Raiders), and Arrowhead Stadium (Chiefs.) Both the Rams and the Raiders organizations currently have new stadium plans officially in the works, with LA’s stadium set to open in 2020, and the Raiders’ stadium expected to open in the same year.

That would then make New Era Field the fourth-oldest stadium in the NFL. As much as that adds to the heritage of the city and our team, it does not ignore the fact that the stadium is becoming outdated. According to Buffalo Business First, $3 million of preventative maintenance work was planned at the stadium in 2017, and as CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment Bruce Popko says, the stadium has fallen behind modern standards.

As reported by WIVB News 4 in Buffalo, one of the main pros of a new stadium would be the ability for year-round use. Pat Freeman, who is a member of WUFO sports radio, says that the current Orchard Park stadium brings no return on investment, whereas a year-round facility would bring such a return.

One large fan concern is that the Bills would lose home field advantage if the stadium was truly a year-round facility. Home games in the winter are supposed to be an advantage because the Bills will have experience practicing in the snow and the cold.

This is why Hard Rock Stadium, the home for the Miami Dolphins, seems to be a good template for a new stadium, at least when concerned with the weather. The stadium is partially enclosed, with a field-sized opening in the top so that inside is still partially affected by the weather.

One of the other problems with a downtown stadium is the loss of tailgating space. Bills Mafia, or the hordes of Bills fans, is the best tailgating fanbase around, and part of the most effective draws to games at New Era Field is the excessive tailgating space. The stadium downtown would have to also accommodate increased parking or improved travel, which includes other money spending options like improving the subpar subway system or improving traffic flow from the new parking lots.

The fact remains that the New Era Field is growing more and more outdated, and eventually, the Pegulas will have to make a decision before the current stadium lease is up in the summer of 2023.

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