The Buffalo Bills have faced lots of drama and controversy throughout the 2021 offseason. From player vaccination stances to the team threatening to move to Austin, Texas, it has been a rollercoaster ride for everyone, especially the fans. However, recently Pegula Sports and Entertainment released the latest stadium proposal for the Bills. Here are things you should know about this proposal and how it relates to some of the more recently built stadiums across the NFL.
The first thing that many fans immediately noticed and some took problems with was the capacity of the proposed stadium. In the proposal, it states that the stadium would seat 60,000 spectators. If the Bills were to move forward with this proposal, it would be the smallest stadium in the NFL. The Bills’ current home, Highmark Stadium, holds 72,000 spectators.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, fewer fans would be able to attend Bills games, and due to the decrease in supply with the demand for Bills tickets staying strong, prices will likely go up. The thing is, the Bills have the smallest market in the NFL by a large margin. In a ratio of market size to stadium capacity, at 60,000 seats, the Bills would still be fairly high. Although, 60,000 does fit the market size of Buffalo.
The next thing that sticks out is the price tag. In the most recent proposal, the Bills are estimating that the cost of the stadium’s construction would be $1.4 billion. I wrote a series of articles on some of the newer stadiums in the NFL and what the Bills may take from them, which you can access here. The reason why I bring this up is from my research (outside of SoFi Stadium, which came in at a ridiculous $4.9 billion); this is about the market price for building a stadium.
Some of the controversy surrounding the talks between state and local government and PSE was PSE’s request that the stadium be funded entirely by taxpayer money. Of course, this will not happen. All of these newer stadiums were financed by a mix of both public and private funds.
The last two interesting things of note are the location of the proposed stadium and its open-air design.
To start with the location, this was one that I wasn’t expecting. The trend in the NFL has been moving stadiums into the central, downtown areas. However, the idea of keeping the stadium in Orchard Park makes a lot of sense. The Pegulas have recently improved the facilities at One Bills Drive, as they are state of the art. Building the proposed stadium in a parking lot next to the current stadium means the Bills don’t have to move. They continue to use all of the state-of-the-art facilities that they just recently got.
The last thing to cover here is the roof or lack thereof. The proposal has the stadium as open-air with covered seats, similar to the setup for the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Again this goes against the trend in the NFL, with many teams moving into indoor stadiums. Many people believed that if that stadium were indoors, it could attract events such as the NCAA Basketball Final Four or the NFL Scouting Combine. With an open-air stadium, these ideas are not possible, but it’s tough to say if there would ever happen due to Buffalo’s small market.
This will be the first of several proposals as this stadium situation is just getting started. The proposal states that the stadium construction would be completed no later than 2027, six years from now. Regardless of what direction PSE and the state and local government go, let’s enjoy The Ralph while it’s here. While also being excited that the Bills will have a beautiful new home in Orchard Park sooner rather than later.