With the future of ownership up in the air, there is the looming question of where the Buffalo Bills will call home for years to come. For the immediate future, Bills’ home games will remain at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. Their 10-year lease agreement with the stadium comes with a $400 million relocation fee during the first seven years of the lease. After that, the team has a one-time option for a buyout. The current lease means the Bills are all but set to remain in Orchard Park through at least 2020.
Earlier this month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made an optimistic statement about the Bills’ future in western New York, but emphasized the importance of building a new stadium.
“We all want to focus and get that stadium built,” Goodell said. “We need to find the right long-term solution that is good for the community and can help the Bills continue to be successful in western New York. I’m confident we’ll get there.”
Ralph Wilson Stadium has hosted Bills games for more than 40 years and the team and fans are due for an upgrade. The current stadium lacks the amenities of other NFL stadiums and the location in Orchard Park is isolated and far away from area attractions.
The New Stadium Working Group was created to help explore the options of possible development of a new stadium. The advisory committee is composed of representatives from the Buffalo Bills, the State of New York and Erie County.
Some of the discussed locations for a potential new stadium in New York include Niagara Falls, Batavia or utilizing land owned near the current stadium in Orchard Park. The most intriguing location, however, is located just south of downtown Buffalo. The outer harbor would be the best location for the new stadium.
A stadium built on a waterfront location of the outer harbor would attract visitors from all over. Imagine seeing an aerial view of the stadium along the water and seeing downtown nearby during a live broadcast of a game. This prime location would give Buffalo a fresh perspective to bring in tourists and influence people and businesses to move there.
This location is perfect because there is plenty of room for parking lots to maintain a strong tradition of tailgate parties. By extending the Metro Rail to the stadium, fans would also have the option to beat traffic by riding the train.
The Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex made a proposal for a waterfront stadium that would seat 72,000 people and have a retractable roof. The proposal also includes an addition of a convention center and sports museum. This would be perfect because, with the retractable roof, the stadium could host events year-round (like the NCAA March Madness tournament.) The convention center and sports museum would also offer opportunities for additional events to be held during the offseason.
The cost of a waterfront development would be expensive (approximate cost of $1.5 billion) and there would be an additional cost for expanding the Metro Rail to go to the stadium. These costs would be worth it in the long run as it would build the Bills’ brand and boost the Buffalo economy.
It’s time to bring the Bills to Buffalo.