If you consider Ralph Wilson Stadium viable, you’re not speaking the language of the NFL.

Proposed sports/entertainment complex in downtown Buffalo.

Do you want NFL football in town post-Ralph Wilson? If you don’t want it or don’t really care, stop reading. I won’t attempt to justify this to you. Everything below is written with the assumption that you’d like the team to stick around.

1. If Buffalo is going to have more than a fleeting chance if/when the club goes to open market, the 1970 relic in Orchard Park isn’t going to do WNY any favors. If you consider Ralph Wilson Stadium viable, you’re not speaking the language of the NFL. We’re at the “I’m not putting any more money into this car” stage of our relationship with the old building. Dump more than $200 million into renovating it and what will you have? Ralph Wilson Stadium.

2. Disagree? Let’s check out the current state of stadium affairs in other rust belt cities currently hosting NFL games.

Home of the Cleveland Browns!

Home of the Detroit Lions!

Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Home of the Buffalo Bills.

3. When stadium and entertainment complexes of this nature get done, HKS, Inc tends to be involved. Sure, Buffalo has seen plenty of “artist’s renderings” that never go any further but, in this case, the “artists” in question aren’t spending 6 hours a day at Spot Coffee. You may know them from such completed projects as Yankee Stadium and Cowboys Stadium. It’s a big boy project and the big boys have been called in.

4. It’s reasonable to conclude that waterfront development will continue with or without a project of this magnitude. Keep in mind, though, that Buffalo was ready to hitch its wagon to Bass Pro.  The logic was that once an anchor tenant was in place, other businesses would organically surround it.  The “automatic growth around an anchor tenant” concept was a much tougher sell when we didn’t really even know what Bass Pro was.  (“No, I’ve never been inside one of their stores but it’d be near the water and the water has bass, right? “) In this case, we already like the Bills.  

5. No, it wouldn’t be easy to get in and out of that parcel of land as presently constructed but do you really think that isn’t going to be considered? This project would force an overhaul of an area that is in absolute need of an overhaul. Want the Skyway obliterated? Here’s your chance. Love those pedestrian bridges at PNC Park in Pittsburgh? Cast your vote. Want to transform the MetroRail into an actual mass transit system that extends to the southtowns? Now’s the time.

If you were building a new version of Buffalo, this stretch of vacant waterfront property is exactly where you’d erect the Home of the Buffalo Bills.



  1. If you can’t remember why the waterfront stadium idea was turned down 30 yrs ago, let me help. It’s because the waterfront location adds nothing to watching a football game. In fact building a stadium catching the full fetch of ferocious Lake Erie lake winds is a bit on the crazy side. Did you ever work on the waterfront? I have. The wind could knock you down on the way to the parking lot. Water fronts are great for water related activities. If the sport was water-polo, then you could make the case.

    • That’s ridicules. If you didn’t notice, its a retractable roof design. If the winds are an issue, flip the switch. Problem solved. There isn’t a reason in the world that this isn’t a good idea. Tax money? Use it. I’d rather it go to something I can enjoy both by visiting, raising city reputation, and pure aesthetics than it go to some corrupt politicians kids cell phone bills and state-funded cars. Get this done. The city can only benefit.

  2. Most waterfront (and downtown) stadiums are absolutely no fun to go to. the tailgating sucks and way too spread out. The traffic leaving the stadium is always a nightmare (this is probably a push since it sucks now), and you have little actual development around the stadium because of the massive amount of space needed to park 60K vehicles. This doubles as one side is lost due to water. You wind up with a couple of bars and lots of open, vast space that will be of no use other than on the 10 days per year. I prefer actual waterfront development that is a tourist draw and for community use. And yes, the wind will be absolutely terrible.

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  4. Hey Brad,

    You don’t put any stock into the whole “best sightlines in the NFL” bit, or Bill Polian asking why the Ralph can’t be considered in the ballpark of a Wrigley?

    I’ve never been to other NFL stadiums to know any better, but I do know there’s not a bad seat in the house, and it’s still a stadium built with the working stiff in mind, which I very much like.

    And the Do Not Urinate in Sink picture? Great job.

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  6. I am a Bills fan and a supporter of the Bufalo (WNY) region and would like to see progress and forward thinking of what a how we can do things instead of the gloom and doom of all recent failed projects.

    Its true that Buffalo has been losing population, but economics determine all of this and its jobs, quality of life, and the value of a dollar that will determine whether the region keeps losing population or whether techno industries such as bio-technolofy and nanotechnology which have already been invested in here will lead us in a new Buffalo. Just as Buffalo was a jewel at the previous turn of the century becuase of the position on the water and the industrial revolution, ther is no reason that these new industries cannot lead us out of the doldrums. Times change and economies are cyclical in nature. What I’m saying is it does not have to be like this in Bufflao forever. One thing we all know is that this is a very nice place to live for many reasons.

    What I like about the latest waterfront proposal is that it takes into account the Bills, the convention center, and a tourist draw museum akin to the Rock and Roll HOF in Cleveland.

    Our current convention center is joke and if we are to compete with other cities for that business, we need a modern day convention center. Whether or not it needs to be incorporated with the stadium is up for discussion.

    I think most would agree that if the Bills are going to stay here for the long term after another owner purchases the team, we will need some sort of new stadium that is able to compete revenue-wise in todays’ NFL.

    We talk about having the cheapest tickets in the NFL and how we cannot charge more. Well, if the the least expensive ticket is now $50. Could that not go up to $75, and a $75 ticket go to $100. Just a $25 across the borad ticket kike brings in 1.5M more per game. That does not take into account what raise could be achieved with premium seats. Sure, we could not swallow $50,000 PSL’s but I don’t think if it means getting a really nice new stadium with a new owner committed to winning that we would not and could not pay a bit more.

    With this current design, there are many issues to take into account such as traffic flow and parking, revenue, how best the waterfront should be used. Well, currently we don’t use the waterfront at all really, so why not this?

    I have also heard there is a huge sewage problem with that area and to clean it up would cost in the $500M area so ther ecould be that as well, so as we can see there are many things to consider, but whether or not this is the final plan I think we should do something and talk about what can be done and not always dismiss things so quickly.

    A financial feasiblity study needs to be done taking into account everything and it needs to address the projected revenue flows as this will determine the realistic viability of the plan. After all, if a new owner sinks $800M into the team purchase and the total cost of a new stadium with convention center and museum is 1.4 Billion, investors whether private or public will need a return on their investment.

    What is nice about this plan is that the stadium can be used for many events that will gnerate revenue other than just 8-10 football games played per year. The convention center would also see a dramatic bump is sales as would new hotels and restaurants and area businesses.

    This is where the rubber meets the road. If shelling out this kind of money leads to much higher revenue then it may make sense.

    Lets support the idea that something needs to be done and support the people trying to figure out the best way to get it done.

  7. 3 reasons this is a horrible idea.
    1.) Doesn’t need to be on the waterfront-  The waterfront is going to be developed anyways, even without this stadium. It will have something there soon enough, so why the need to put a stadium there to “revitalize” the area? You have silo city (its own development-on the rise as well) and then Times beach and Tifft farm nature preserves, as well as General Mills in that area. This does not need to be put on the waterfront.  You can’t just say “change the skyway, the roads and bridges” because you need the proper land clearances to even construct these things (look into it, there are many, many other proposals for this site besides this stupid thing) Why not put the stadium where the rock pile used to be? or in an area that wouldn’t likely see development and the City has $1 houses for sale?  
    2.)  Ecological habitats already exist-Times beach and Tifft farm nature preserve are directly in this vicinity,  there needs to be a connector between them on this site, not a ridiculously large parking lot to collect garbage, greywater runoff and chemicals to be pushed into the surrounding waterways (ultimately ruins our quality of water).  You can’t just ignore the ecological habitats already existing (and home to endangered species of plants, fish, etc.) at that because you want a postcard that has a stadium on its waterfront.
    3.)  It’s a big boy project, and the big boys have been brought in— Yeah? Really? Is this really a thing? In case you weren’t already aware, one of the largest Architecture and Design firms in the country is right on Grand Island.  Not only would they have more competency than some “big boy” design firm, but they also would know Buffalo’s history and context way more than HKS would.  You’ve already skipped over agencies that have developed proposals that would embrace the areas ecological prospects as financial gain-there are so many reasons why (financially!) bringing this thing to the outer harbor doesn’t make any sense.  
    Why are we pretending that the Buffalo Bills are a championship team? The area is already being studied and considered for various many projects that make much more sense than your “five reasons”.  They’re weak and written about as much competency as the person that proposed this project.
    Do the Bills need a new stadium? Yes. Should it be in Buffalo? Absolutely.
    If you were building a new version of Buffalo, this stretch of vacant waterfront property is exactly NOT where you’d erect the Home of the Buffalo Bills.

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