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The Buffalo Bills plan to spend $200 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium. What if the city, state and team took a much bigger leap and located the stadium downtown?

Guest columnist Michael Peroha writes in the Buffalo News:

Rather than spend public funds on an aging stadium located in the suburbs, it would make much more sense to make a strategic investment in Buffalo by building a multiuse center on the site of the current Coca-Cola Field and surrounding area. This location is ideal for a project that could be called the Buffalo Niagara Gateway Center, which would be comprised of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, a modern train station, a mass transit hub, as well as retail and cultural venues to complement Canalside.

This site is in the heart of downtown, a block from the Metro line and directly across Exchange Street from the current, very modest Amtrak train station. The Buffalo Niagara Gateway Center could transform this location into the focal point of transportation downtown, the gateway to Western New York.

A downtown stadium – provided it is walkable and connected to amenities – could provide far more economic benefits than the current stadium. Would you be more likely to attend a game if you could hop on Amtrak and get dropped off right at the venue? Would you be more likely to walk around downtown and try out bars and restaurants and perhaps book a hotel room after a Bills game?

But new stadiums can cost $1 billion and there’s little appetite for spending that kind of money on a sports team. Where would Buffalo get a billion bucks?

Oh wait….

5 Responses to Imagining a Downtown Buffalo Bills Stadium

  1. Rochester native and Bills fan currently living in Cincy – while I def see the benefits of going to a game downtown (Paul Brown Stadium is here) Personally, I really enjoy going to the game in the burbs – mainly because tailgating on some slab of concrete in a downtown parking lot or garage isn’t the same. Parking and tailgating in the backyards of peoples houses is a big part of the charm of going to a Bills game – which a lot of stadiums have lost with there new downtown stadia. NFL games are events that don’t start and stop with the game itself. This entire experience is necessary to get people off their couches and to the games, which is actually becoming a bigger problem for the 32 teams in the league because the home experience is so good.

    Also, from an economic perspective, property downtown is more expensive than suburbs. Should the city really surrender it’s most valuable tax generating land to a business (will ask for breaks) and only hosts major events eight times per year – or in the Bills case, seven.

  2. April 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm Jim Webster responds:

    What mental institution did this guy escape from? A billion bucks? Good freakin’ luck, in this NY economy.
    While a downtown stadium in Buffalo, in connection with many more conveniences than the money-sucking Frontier and Sahlens venues in Rochester, makes a little bit of sense, show me the money! And just where is Buffalo going lately, besides nowhere. The economic engine in Upstate is Rochester. When, and if, the Bills and Sabres become more of a factor, then maybe. In the meantime, the Bills certainly do seem to have the edge on development.
    As a previous responder noted, tail-gating is a big thing. And is Wilson stadium really that outdated, or just a candidate for developers to steal more of the public’s money?

  3. May 9, 2012 at 12:41 am Bills Fan responds:

    Reality sucks, I know…but for a second, just imagine the excitement downtown around the ballpark for a Bills game. Imagine having the long forgotten third or upper deck that was to be installed should the Bisons attain Major League status in place. Imagine having seats that wrap around right field and having an open east end zone in left field with the repositioned scoreboard and potential video screen hovering over the east end zone straddling the exit ramp from the thruway. Imagine the Bills coming up from out of the dugout being introduced to 55,000 plus crazy people and having every home game on TV. Yes…it’s a fantasy but the noise in that park would be deafening.

  4. May 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm Antonio Petracca responds:

    I grew up and lived in Rochester NY for 40yrs,
    moving to NYC 1988. During my time there,I’ve never been to a Bills game. Part of the reason was because they were called the BUFFALO Bills.
    I know that more than a third of the fans live in the Rochester Metropolitan region. The Bills have never won a champianship and and have been one of the most underperforming teams in the NFL. Although i no longer live there, i understand the feeling of pride a major league team brings to a community. What i don’t understand is what does Rochester get out of this equation? A solution could be- lets share the Bills. A new stadium could be built in or near Batavia NY, smack in the middle between the two cities. Call them BUF ROC Bills or NY West Bills. It would be much closer to Syracuse and the Southern tier. A solution like this would impact a far greater region and spread out the tax dollar value.

  5. July 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm Joyce Reekie responds:

    I think the bills should stay right where they are you have the road s already thre parking is there just make the changes and put a retractable dome on the stadium you will get more sellouts !!!!

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