New Bills Stadium Needs To Be Good
ORCHARD PARK — It’s well known around the National Football League that Buffalo Bills fans are among the league’s most enthusiastic.
Meanwhile, the team has been good to fans, and not just by putting the “12th Man” on the current stadium’s wall of fame.
Unlike many teams, the Bills have kept ticket prices in a range that many fans can afford.
Certainly not everyone, but many.
Now it’s time to plan for a new stadium that will be the Bills’ home for decades.
There’s much to consider.
It needs to be as good as it reasonably can be.
Does it need to be as grand as those that have been built for some teams in recent years?
No. After all, this isn’t exactly the wealthiest region of the country with an NFL franchise.
Nevertheless, the new stadium needs to be as good as it reasonably can be.
¯ Let’s start with the location.
The current Orchard Park location isn’t far from the Thruway, plenty of other roads lead to the stadium, and there’s already parking galore.
There are also access and egress in 360 degrees.
That wouldn’t be true of any facility on the waterfront. The waterfront would be a pretty setting. Yet the view that fans want at a game is of a victory, not of Lake Erie, beautiful though the lake is.
A new stadium should be in Orchard Park.
¯ The demand for seats is high, so a new stadium should have at least as many seats as the current 70,000 plus seat facility.
Does it need to have 90,000 or 100,000 seats, as some college-football stadiums have? No, yet a stadium smaller than the current one would exclude many fans from games, ironically when the team has positioned, and continues to position, itself to be good for many seasons.
¯ The new stadium needs a roof.
Yes, a roof can deprive the Bills of one aspect of home-field advantage in December and January. Yet that’s a cost of not having to endure inclement conditions during games.
And yes, a stadium with a roof is expensive. Yet the current stadium has been the Bills’ home for five decades. Whatever the extra cost of a roof, when one looks at it as something of benefit perhaps for the next five decades, the cost – though still significant – is less daunting.
¯ Yes, ticket prices will go up in a new facility.
That’s just the reality of it.
Again, though, the facility doesn’t have to be grand.
Attending a game should remain affordable for much of the fan base that already attends games.
Personal-seat licenses cut into that significantly.
Especially if their price tag has four figures.
To the left of the decimal point.
Personal-seat licenses risk turning at least season tickets, if not single-game tickets, into a pleasure that many fans just can’t swing.
Bills’ games shouldn’t be something that only wealthy fans can afford.
Besides, if only the wealthy could afford to go, the enthusiasm of the fan base at games would be much different. It wouldn’t reflect the spirit of fans from across the region.
Will we ever see $20 red seats again, or $5 endzone seats?
Those years are long gone.
Still, Bills’ games shouldn’t be something that only wealthy fans can afford.
The Bills need to continue to be especially conscious of that in this market, which, again, isn’t exactly the wealthiest region of the country with an NFL franchise.
If refraining from excessively passing stadium-construction costs on to fans means that the state government needs to absorb more of the stadium-construction costs than it would like to, then that may be what needs to happen.
When the new stadium is as good as it reasonably can be, Western New York will look back and be glad it had such foresight.
Like many fans, Randy Elf isn’t exactly enthusiastic about paying for a personal-seat license, especially to attend a game in a cold December rain or a January blizzard.
COPYRIGHT ç 2021 BY RANDY ELF.