Lawmakers revive talk of Bills stadium in downtown Buffalo

Apr 10, 2012

With the possibility of spending at least $100 million on repairing Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, city lawmakers are pushing for another look at instead building a new stadium in the City of Buffalo.

Erie County and the Bills are involved in talks about a new lease, although no details are being released. The current stadium needs significant repairs, with the estimate of $100 million being used frequently, although an in-depth study apparently hasn't been completed for the Bills.

Council Majority Leader Demone Smith is pushing to delay the renovations to allow a parallel study of a new stadium in the city, allowing for more year-round use than the current ten games a year in Orchard Park.

"This could be an all-encompassing project. I think a stadium in downtown Buffalo only enhances the life that we have here," said council member Joseph Golombek.

Local sports broadcaster Pat Freeman told the Common Council's Economic Development Committee this afternoon a new stadium would be good for the community and would help the tourism and convention business.

"It would create more opportunity and jobs. I think it would help rebuild what you're trying to do in this downtown area," said Freeman, pointing to the possibility of conventions related to the downtown medical corridor and religious groups.

"They're about to ask you for $150-200 million to put into a 40-year-old stadium that is not in the City of Buffalo [and] that can only be used part of the year," he said.

Freeman says he favors a site on the Waterfront for the new facility, perhaps along Ohio Street. He estimates a new stadium would cost in the neighborhood of $700 million.