When fans come back to New Era Field in Orchard Park next season, it will be different: $5 million different.
Under the 10-year lease among Erie County, Albany and the Buffalo Bills, there is a formula to decide how much money will be spent on repairs each year. Year 2020 will be year seven to the lease. Sometimes the projects are complicated and lengthy, squeezed between spring thaw and the Aug. 1 deadline to move out and leave the facility to football players.
County Public Works Commissioner William Geary said there is really nothing this year that will stress that construction window. He said plans are pretty standard for an aging facility.
"Every year, our biggest improvement, obviously, maintaining the concrete on and around the stadium," Geary said. "So there's concrete repair. There is some heat pumps, electrical upgrades, site work, with some paving in the parking lots, fixing some drainage. It's a major package to put out for bid."
Geary said he recognizes there are people who don't care about maintenance because they expect a new stadium in a few years. He said his job is to maintain county facilities and until someone tells him to stop repairing the stadium and its pieces, he will keep fixing this one.
"That's the big unknown," he said. "Right now, I'm in charge with maintaining all the county facilities. So until I hear differently and that's a fruition. I know a lot of people who have talked about that, but right now, first and foremost, we have to play for it today and keep the stadium going so it's available into the future."
He said the work is constant.
"We all sit down at the table - the Buffalo Bills, New York State and Erie County - as a group. Every year, we have a wish list, then we work backwards from there, based off of the monies that are available and what's the priorities going forward," Geary said.