Floating ideas on a future site for the Bills stadium

There’s been a whole lot of talk about where the Bills will reside once their newest lease expires in 10 years (or seven depending on what course of action they take).

While the current renovations will serve as little more than a soggy band-aid for the aging stadium, the lease is designed to provide the time necessary to get a new stadium designed, approved and built in Western New York. Of course seven to ten years probably isn’t long enough around these parts.

Although a shiny new stadium built on the Outer Harbor is probably the first choice for many new stadium advocates, I think that it’s more likely that Bass Pro will build a floating supercenter to support the new signature Peace Bridge span before a football stadium gets constructed on the Outer Harbor. Too many opponents with plans for parks, public access and other causes which simply don’t align with a billion dollar project such as that.

Bear in mind that a number of stadiums have been built in the past 10-20 years for relatively acceptable costs and there’s no reason to think that the new Bills stadium (open or with a roof) couldn’t be completed without eclipsing the billion dollar plateau.

Instead, I think there are a few more feasible locations throughout the city that would not only appease those who staunchly disagree with placing the stadium on the water but also the parties who hope to see the stadium built in the city limits. I’ll go in order of most ridiculous and unrealistic and work my way down to the plan I like best  (forgive the sloppy photo work). Continue reading

Plans floated for waterfront stadium

Don’t get too excited about the pretty picture of the proposed stadium project for the Outer Harbor. Not only is this in the very early stages but the proposal seems to be a pie-in-the-sky plan that probably isn’t a great fit for Western New York.

There are plenty of bits and pieces about this idea that will hopefully become part of an actual new build, but as a project without much backing – and one the Russ Brandon said won’t happen – it is just a pretty picture for now.

To recap the details from The Buffalo News article: The 72,000 seat stadium would be the centerpiece of a $1.4 billion project that would have the stadium serve as a convention center along with a hotel, retail and parking for somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 cars. That was billion, with a B.

Considering the scope of the project, it doesn’t seem all that bad. It puts the stadium downtown along the water, something that fans have been clamoring for a while. In addition, it provides a brand-new home for a team that has been rumored to have one foot out the door due to a number of circumstances – namely their aging relic of a stadium.

However, a 72,000 seat stadium is actually on the high-end of capacities when compared to a number of stadiums around the league and the price tag would most certainly require PSLs and significantly higher tickets costs. The latter two points being widely panned as deal breakers for a financially limited region. Of course, any sort of investment in a new stadium is far more attractive and beneficial (long-term) than wasting another $200 million on upgrades to the Ralph. Continue reading

Infastructrue needs to be considered with any stadium project

The Bills are in desperate need of a new stadium. This is a truth that is evident to just about anyone who pays attention to the team. Where that new stadium should be built has been a hot topic amongst that same group who sees the writing on the aging walls of the Ralph.

The Outer Harbor – a destination many Buffalonians would love to see – is the location for an incredibly ambitious and somewhat improbable proposal pitched by a new group today. One thing that didn’t seem to be fully considered with this project is the inevitable infrastructure issues that will accompany it.

The proposal that includes a stadium, convention center, hotel, retail and 5,000 parking spots for a low, low price of $1.4 billion doesn’t really accommodate for the 72,000 fans that will be coming down ten days a year.

While the Outer Harbor has plenty of space to accommodate surface parking, the park going crowds would certainly take issue with the idea of swaths of pavement being laid down throughout the Outer Harbor. Of course, that is probably the only feasible option regardless of any solution that would be brought forward.

Parking isn’t even the most concerning portion of this, however. At the end of the day the lots will take care of themselves. There is space to provide surface parking that won’t impact current and any future development out that way. Parking ramps are always an option as well, especially those with ground-level retail to complement the proposed retail portion of this project.

Based on the renderings, the Skyway and Route 5 will be the primary arteries to funnel cars to the area with surface streets like Ohio St., Tift, and Ridge also connecting directly to Route 5 and Furhman Blvd. Yet, Furhman is a two-lane boulevard that would be more than overwhelmed with the type of traffic that accompanies a Bills game. The last thing Buffalo wants is to have a two-lane road leading to their stadium. It is exactly what people complain about in Foxboro. Traffic in Orchard Park is tough enough to handle on gamedays and Abbot, Southwestern and 20A are all four-lanes wide (20A is two lanes but the shoulders serve as lanes on gameday). If the traffic in OP is rough, multiply it by ten on the Outer Harbor. Continue reading

Might a new UB stadium spark something bigger?

I was previously inspired to write about UB’s football program due to my desire to see a true Division 1 college team in my hometown. The Bulls were close at one time, but still have some work to do.

During the time I spent thinking about that previous post, Brian Koziol and Mike Harrington were discussing the Big East’s hope for a 14th team. Their conversation evolved into a discussion over UB’s stadium and the shortcomings the building has.

Upgrade me, please.

UB Stadium is just about 20 years old and has a much younger, albeit unimpressive, addition on the north and south ends. It its current state – replete with Jacksonville-style trap advertisements on the north end – the stadium holds just over 29,000 people. That is an average number for a stadium that houses a team whose fan base is quite small. Filling it, however is a completely different problem. As detailed in that previous post, in-roads need to be made to establish the legitimacy of the Bulls in the Buffalo sports market. Truthfully, this team should be no lower than third in priority behind the Bills and Sabres. This is a DI football team that seems to get equivalent treatment to a double-A baseball by many.

Improving non-conference competition and providing your head coach the appropriate amount of time to build the program are vital parts of taking UB to the next level But if the digs aren’t up to snuff, big conferences and fans that is on the fence may not be lured towards the Bulls.

UB’s current set up is by no means old. But it is severely below the standard for most DI programs. An ideal situation would bring about a new facility to house the football, track and soccer teams, but finding that kind of funding is going to be next to impossible. As of now, the only changes due to the stadium under UB2020 is the removal of the – now tarped – north bleachers. That will make room for an indoor facility which is a wonderful recruiting tool, but it doesn’t do much for the glorified DIII stadium that stands at UB North today. Continue reading

Exploring the future of Buffalo’s football stadium

Let’s be real, the city of Buffalo will never host a Super Bowl. Even if Cowboys Stadium was airlifted up from Arlington, it just isn’t going to happen. So when a $975 million figure comes down for the proposed stadium in Minneapolis, Buffalonians shouldn’t be concerned about the future of the Ralph or the idea of a new stadium in the city.

Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, 67,000 seats. Would this be so hard to put on the waterfront?

The elephant in the room is the glimmering new stadium proposition in Los Angeles. It seems likely that Farmers Field will be built and that the second step will be to relocate a team to Los Angeles. Among the teams whispered about on an annual basis, the Bills, Vikings and Jaguars are three of the most popular. The Vikings are all but removed from the list of potentials with the announcement on their stadium.

I have to think that Jacksonville would be the odds-on favorite for a move. After all, the Jags tarp over a ridiculous number of seats every season and haven’t taken a firm grip in the Sunshine State. Of course, Buffalo’s aged stadium, poor economy and the looming specter of Ralph Wilson’s estate makes the ground the Bills stand on rocky – at best. However, there are ways to ensure the Bills remain in Buffalo forever, and they don’t all require a brand new stadium.

While Ralph Wilson’s estate will not be something that is addressed for a few more years, it is certainly at the crux of many Bills-related discussions. There are plenty of rumors of varying legitimacy swirling about ownership groups led by Jim Kelly, Tom Golisano (please no), Jeremy Jacobs and even Terry Pegula coming in to purchase the team. However, these are indeed rumors and there is no clear heir apparent to Wilson as owner of the Bills. Knowing that there is going to be a group – or one person – that will keep the Bills in Buffalo indefinitely is something that needs to be established in the coming years.

If an ownership group can be hammered out, there will be more clarity towards the future of the team and what direction can be taken regarding a permanent stadium project. The current plan on the table makes plenty of sense. The team, city and fans are not in a position to build a sparkling shrine to the game of football and a balanced renovation project will provide the footing necessary to stave off those sniffing at relocation.

However, there will come a day when a new stadium will be necessary. Whether that is five, ten or twenty years from now, the Buffalo Bills will eventually need a new stadium. What is unfortunate is the team (and city) aren’t in the position to remedy that situation. The proposed renovation project appears to be a broad sweeping plan that will help bring the Ralph closer to its newer, shinier cousins around the league. It is a perfect stop-gap to ensure a number of safe years in Buffalo before a permanent stadium plan can be determined. Continue reading