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Best of 2018, #2: Buffalo Bills’ Stadium Situation

Ralph Wilson Stadium

We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #2: The Buffalo Bills‘ stadium situation.

In 2016, New Era Field’s renaming (from Ralph Wilson Stadium) and the Buffalo Bills’ fact-finding toward a new stadium was our No. 10 biggest story of the year. Two years later, there are still plenty of questions about the team’s long-term stadium situation, but the organization took some interesting steps in 2018.

In early August of 2017, Buffalo co-owner Terry Pegula said that the franchise remained committed to New Era Field, adding “[W]e’re not in any planning session at all right now for a new stadium. We’re still enjoying what’s been done to New Era Field.”

But that tune changed this year. In May, co-owner Kim Pegula told the Buffalo News, “We’re having internal discussions and we’re setting up a strategy and a timeline” with regard to looking into building a new stadium for the Bills, though she cautioned, “it may be nothing happens, it may be we make renovations, it may be that we build a new stadium. But we’ve got to get the information first.”

And then a month ago, on November 27, Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) held a press conference in which it announced that it had commissioned CAA ICON to look into stadium options for the Bills–including the feasibility of New Era Field renovations and a potential new facility–as well as potential renovations on the Buffalo Sabres’ KeyBank Center, with the findings expected to be released in six to nine months. “We’ve got two venues that are in need of renovation and we needed to bring in some outside expertise to begin the evaluation,” said PSE CEO Bruce Popko at the press conference, quoted in the Buffalo News. “We have expiring leases and we have, candidly, venues that need upgrading… We have some more time, but we are up against it. We are now to the phase where we have to begin to make some determinations because five years goes really in the blink of an eye.”

Dating to 1973, New Era Field is the sixth-oldest stadium in the NFL, but is on track to move to fourth-oldest by 2020, because of the Oakland Raiders’ upcoming departure from the Coliseum (currently the NFL’s fourth-oldest stadium) and the Los Angeles Rams’ impending shift from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the NFL’s oldest) to a new Inglewood stadium. New Era Field is behind NFL standards, just as KeyBank Center is behind NHL standards. Change – whether from more renovations or a new home entirely – will have to be coming soon to Buffalo.

Image courtesy Buffalo Bills.

Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date:

Best of 2018, #3: Green Bay Packers Unveil TitletownTech

Best of 2018, #4: David Tepper Buys Carolina Panthers

Best of 2018, #5: Raymond James Stadium Renovations

Best of 2018, #6: New Spring Pro Football Leagues Unveiled

Best of 2018, #7: End Zone Development in College Stadiums

Best of 2018, #8: Ravens Continue M&T Bank Stadium Upgrades

Best of 2018, #9: Shad Khan’s Wembley Stadium Offer Stalls

Best of 2018, #10: University of South Alabama’s New Stadium Moves Forward

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August Publications