BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 2019 study commissioned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment that evaluated potential locations for a new Bills stadium gave the highest score to a site along South Park Avenue in the City of Buffalo – not the Orchard Park site the team is currently vying for.
The difference, of course, is the price tag associated with the projects: A projected $1.99 billion at the South Park site versus $1.55 billion across the street in OP. The turnaround time was also longer for South Park: An estimated completion by 2027, compared to 2025 in OP. Both sites scored significantly better than a third site examined near the University at Buffalo.
The findings came to light Thursday as the team turned over more than 600 pages of documents relating to studies their consultants have done over the past few years, which were made public through Empire State Development. You can view all four reports in full on their website.
The South Park site received a grade of 73 in the 2019 report, compared to 66 for Orchard Park and 34 for UB.
Notably, South Park excelled in rankings for revenue generation, transportation and “place making ability.” Orchard Park graded better in cost, schedule, parking and intangibles. The UB site scored lower in every category except revenue generation, in which Orchard Park was the lowest.
Several pages of one pre-pandemic document are devoted to the team’s vision and aspiration for the Bills stadium, as well as the Sabres arena. Notable items include:
- A desire for a multi-purpose football stadium. “New or renovated facility should support more uses than football. … 365 day use. Open and active year-round with event and hospitality offerings.”
- Despite the previous bullet, the also wishes to have an open-air stadium. “No roof. Outdoor football.” The team wanted natural grass and a heated field.
- 60,000-65,000 was the targeted capacity.
- Tailgating was among the top concerns. “Must have ability to support significant tailgating experience – fan tradition.”
- Wider concourses. “Provide more room for people and more storage areas.”
- A wider field area to accommodate soccer and other sports (the current stadium is too narrow for a soccer field).
- “Sports Betting should be considered in stadium planning as a future use & revenue opportunity.”
The wishlist for the Sabres arena can be summarized in one bullet point: “Wow factor. Make the arena great again.” Replacing the seats in the arena, rethinking the Lexus Club and including a Wall of Fame all made the list.
Interestingly, the South Park site received a better score for tailgating in the site evaluation matrix than Orchard Park. The slide on tailgating at the South Park site is below.
Renderings for the city stadium and the position of the Orchard Park stadium were also included.
The team’s wishlists for the stadium and arena can be seen in the images below.
This is a developing news story, check back for updates.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.