Breaking down the rumored sites for the Bills next home

It’s the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing the future of the Bills in Buffalo. Finding a solution to where the Bills will be playing their games for the foreseeable future has presented a myriad of questions, proposals and debates throughout Western New York and it doesn’t appear we’re collectively closer to a final answer than before Ralph Wilson passed away.

The Buffalo News has been the most active in covering various plans and potential owners involved in the saga. They’ve done everything from profiling potential owners to scouting potential stadium sites. Outside of the News’ coverage, it appears as if there is a small handful of locations that have made the unofficial shortlist when it comes to the Bills home turf.

Keeping the team located in Orchard Park has been a popular topic along with spots in and around the Perry Projects, the Outer Harbor and even Niagara Falls. That group, to me, appears to be the most popular at this point in time. Other spots like Scott Congel’s land in West Seneca, Batavia and others have come up, but it seems as if they’re all extreme long shots.

What’s interesting is how the stadium project will factor into the mix with potential owners as well. Tom Golisano, Donald Trump or perhaps even Jeff Gundlach may have the funds to make a competitive bid on the franchise, but do they have the scratch to finance enough of a stadium to limit the need for PSLs – something that’s widely accepted as a non-starter given WNY’s economy? Terry Pegula, on the other hand, has the funds available to go off and buy the team and build the stadium without even searching for public assistance considering his vast wealth. In fact, you could argue that the $1.75 billion he made in his recent land sale is nearly enough to cover the costs associated with purchasing the team and building a new home in one fell swoop.

The various scenarios that can and will play out surrounding the potential owners is a lengthy conversation in and of itself. Placing the primary focus on what seems to work best in terms of a stadium without taking into account future influences from ownership is the point of this post. I’ve been on record voicing my support for a great number of options. At one point I saw the Outer Harbor as a simple solution but I’ve since backed off from that theory. I certainly support the idea of saving the public (and owner) any major costs by putting a serious renovation effort into the Ralph but I’d also love to see a perfect storm converge to see a new stadium built downtown. Continue reading

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

Stadium renovations are a win

The plans for the renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium are officially public and they look pretty darn good. These renovations are part of the new lease agreement and this should serve as the official bridge that will carry the Bills from The Ralph to a new stadium.

Any new stadium talks are in the very early stages and can’t be taken all the seriously at this point since the main group promoting their plan remains without any backing or support from any outside entity. While that stadium plan is certainly ambitious and should be pursued, it seems like quite a longshot at this point in time.

Based on how the new lease was constructed and some of the comments made by those involved in this process (both with the County and Bills) it would appear that a new stadium is indeed part of the long-term plans for the franchise. For the time being, making sure that The Ralph is habitable for fans is key. Call it putting lipstick on a pig or a band-aid for a gunshot wound, but these renovations are not only necessary and they look good.

The two most visible additions will be the Welcome Plaza on the west end of the stadium and the addition of two videoboards on the east end of the stadium. Additional renovations to the concourses and gates also appear to be part of the gameplan. 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