During a tour Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills showcased the various projects underway at the stadium. The upgrades consist of new video display boards, a West End plaza that will include a new team store and enhanced gate entries, as well as renovated and expanded concessions throughout the stadium.
“The renovations underway at Ralph Wilson Stadium will give Bill’s fans and visitors a game day experience they’ll never forget,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Improvements are on time and on budget, so players and fans will soon be able to enjoy the stadium they deserve. It’s a great investment to ensure Bills games remain a top attraction in Western New York, supporting jobs and fueling our economy.”
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who attended, said, “These renovations are being made with the fans in mind and will tremendously enhance the game day experience for all. The Governor’s administration is committed to keeping the Bills in Western New York, and with these stadium upgrades we are helping to cement the Bills not only as an iconic team, but as a driver of major economic development and jobs in the region. I am very excited to see these investments coming together, and look forward to seeing the finished products throughout the upcoming seasons.”
The agreement signed by Governor Cuomo last year calls for $130 million in upgrades. The Bills are contributing significantly -- $35 million -- to the capital improvements to the Stadium. The state is contributing $54 million and the county’s share is $41 million. The agreement includes a commitment from the Bills to stay in Buffalo for at least seven years, regardless of ownership. Under the new 10-year lease that began last season, Erie County and New York State have a virtually ironclad guarantee that the team will remain here through 2019.
If the Bills leave any time before the 2019 season, the team would have to pay $400 million to break the lease. The agreement also includes the creation of a New Stadium Working Group and Fund to begin exploring either a substantial renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium or the development and construction of a new stadium on the current stadium’s site or at another Erie County location.
Russ Brandon, President and CEO of the Buffalo Bills, said, “The exterior concourse is increasing significantly in size, allowing us to make improvements that will dramatically change the experience of attending a Bills’ game for fans. The fun will begin as soon as ticket holders walk through the gates -- with more entertainment, a wider variety of food and a bigger better video screen.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium will upgrade the fans’ experience in ways never imagined when the stadium was built. This investment underscores our commitment to keeping the Bills in Erie County and giving Bills fans the amenities and experiences enjoyed by their counterparts around the NFL. From the fan’s perspective, these improvements will make game day better in many ways, and we look forward to the completion of this project.”
Here are some of the projects that are underway:
•Entrance gates are being pushed out toward the street, creating a much larger exterior concourse outside the stadium walls and allowing for live entertainment. Six new “super gates” will have additional entry lanes, and each gate will have a video board to show pregame shows and highlights. An aerial view of the stadium with this project can be found here.
•A huge 8,500 square foot Bills Store is being built behind the scoreboard with a glass exterior and a large Bills logo creating the stadium’s signature look. The store can be accessed from the stadium or from the outside on nongame days. A rendering of the store from outside the stadium can be found here.
•The current scoreboard will remain approximately the same size, but its video screen is now about 60 feet wider. New technology has also been used to create a crisper picture.
•Fans sitting in front of that scoreboard will have two smaller video scoreboards that they can view without having to turn around.
•Other changes include a new Bills-themed East End Lounge with food and drinks; an extensive rewiring project to expand wireless capabilities; a new commissary building for Delaware North; a “freshening up” of the lower-bowl concourse; a refurbishing of concession stands to provide more variety; and 22 percent more restroom space. Renderings of the new concession space and concourse can be found here, here and here.
•The project has a long list of other changes that include safety upgrades; work to meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and infrastructure repairs.
Former Bills linebacker and Architect Scott Radecic of the Populous Architectural Firm said, “The huge new store will be a shining beacon for people passing the stadium, reinforcing the brand by improving the curb appeal of the stadium. These upgrades will improve the flow of fans in and out of the stadium and give them the high tech entertainment experience they are looking for when they come to a game.”
The project has a goal of 23% Minority and Women Business Enterprise participation. Presently the MBE participation is at more than 15% and the WBE is at approximately 19%.
About the Bills
The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in Buffalo, New York. They are currently members of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). They play their home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the suburb of Orchard Park, and since 2008 have played one regular season home game per season in Toronto. The Bills began competitive play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League and joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.