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

Room for links along Route 5

Back when Joel Giambra was in office, he mentioned that the former Bethlehem Steel site and the Outer Harbor could serve as a grand links-style golf course. If only that could be the case.

Clearly there is enough space for a golf course, but plenty of work needed on the former Bethlehem Steel site.

The Bethlehem Steel property sits along a massive stretch of waterfront land along Route 5 and has been sitting fallow for a number of years. A bit of green development has recently dotted the property, as the Steel Winds wind farm has sprouted 13 wind turbines along the property. Its not exactly brownfield remediation, but it is better than the few pieces of the blast furnaces and coke ovens that still stand.

Just like almost everything else in Buffalo and Western New York, the golf community is in somewhat of a vacuum. There are few premier courses in the area, with the handful that do exist charging a truly premium rate in greens fees. The rest of the courses in Western New York range anywhere from average to terrible with greens fees typically heading in the opposite direction.

Buffalo, by no means, is a haven that golfers from across the nation flock to. There are some gems to play, however. Glen Oak is probably the most impressive course of the bunch as a Robert Trent Jones design. In a few more years, Seneca Hickory Stick (Robert Trent Jones Jr. design) will be equal to the task. Ivy Ridge is a phenomenal track and even Diamond Hawk and Harvest Hill fall into the premium category for courses in the area.

All of the best courses, however, are located in outer suburbs. In fact, some of the best golf within 30 minutes of Buffalo is played in Canada (Thundering Waters, Legends on the Niagara). Diamond Hawk is the closest premium course to the city of Buffalo and that is located across the street from the airport.

Not only does the Bethlehem Steel site provide the necessary land for a golf course, it has a great location. The course is minutes from downtown and would provide vistas that would rival another links course that resides along the shores of a Great Lake, Whistling Straits. Maybe the opposite side of Route 5 isn’t exactly picturesque, but the drive leading up to where the old Bethlehem Steel administration building sits is rather scenic. Continue reading

Buffalo Pipe Dream: An aquarium on the Outer Harbor

My third Buffalo Pipe Dream will be about a true pie-in-the-sky idea that would probably have little to know chance of coming to fruition in this city and in this economy. After part one and two, this is going to seem a little ridiculous. However, I had brought up the idea before.

I’d like to see a state-of-the-art aquarium built within the Buffalo city limits, not an aquarium that would rival the Georgia Aquarium, but a substantial attraction to the city to boast. Ideally, the aquarium and zoo would work hand-in-hand as one super awesome entity.

Considering the space that would be required for a proper aquarium, the outer harbor would make for a wonderful home for this new piece of development. The amount of empty land would even allow for the Zoo to be built right next door, but that seems unlikely. After all, the recent capital improvements that have been made basically locks the Zoo into place indefinitely. At this point, any changes to the Zoo will require expansion into Delaware Park. There should be no hesitation to do so, either. Expanding the Zoo to help compete with others like the Cleveland would be a wise step to take. Continue reading