Ralph Wilson Stadium - Courtesy: US Presswire
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- While the Bills and Erie County wrap up work on a new lease that will include renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium to keep the team in Western New York, some argue building a new stadium would be a better option.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz ruled that out earlier this week, saying the biggest concerns are cost and space.
But Pat Freeman, sports director for WUFO 1080 AM, and others dispute Poloncarz's assertions. Freeman says there is space in Downtown Buffalo to build a new stadium, and he points to the relatively small, 31-acre footprint for the Cleveland Browns Stadium.
As for cost, Freeman acknowledged a retractable-roof stadium -- which he prefers -- would be expensive, but he said it would be money well spent.
"You have to invest money to make money, and that's what we're talking about," Freeman said. "Ralph Wilson Stadium does not bring in any revenue."
Freeman said Indianapolis is a good model. Lucas Oil Stadium, built in 2008, cost about $720 million, but the stadium and convention center are expected to bring in a total economic impact of $2.25 billion over a decade, according to the team.
Also, having the new stadium allowed Indy to win the last Super Bowl. Freeman said that possibility would exist for Buffalo with a new temperature-controlled stadium.
"We need to think out of the box," Freeman said. "(And) not get caught up in the same 'ole status quo, band-aid economics."
Both the Bills and the county say a new stadium is off the table in current negotiations; however, Poloncarz acknowledged a new facility may be necessary after the next lease considering Ralph Wilson Stadium is already one of the oldest in the league.