New York state has started the process of building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, appoint the first five members to a 21-person council charged with exploring the matter.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the Bills and Erie County, the host entity for Ralph Wilson Stadium, stating he's made the appointments to the New Stadium Working Group. The council will explore options for building a new Bills stadium, including the financial viability of such a venture and where to put a stadium. Also on the table is whether to make a possible new stadium open-air or a dome.
The Bills play in one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. Ralph Wilson Stadium opened in 1973 and is undergoing $130 million in renovations that are part of the 10-year lease the Bills signed last year with the county. When that lease runs out in 2023, the stadium will be a half-century old. Only Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the O.co Coliseum in Oakland and Soldier Field in Chicago are older. In the NFL, 14 teams play in stadiums built this century, including San Francisco's new stadium opening this fall. Multiple interests have expressed interest in building a new stadium in Los Angeles, the considered one of the main threats to pull the Bills out of Buffalo.
A new stadium, officials on all sides say, would make the team more viable in the Buffalo market and ensure they remain in the area regardless of who owns the team after Ralph Wilson Jr. dies. A group has pushed for a waterfront stadium to be built just off of Buffalo's inner harbor. Other interests have speculated acres of long-dormant land in downtown Niagara Falls could be used for a stadium.
Appointed to the council were Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Buffalo Niagara Partnership CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen and Empire State Development President Kenneth Adams. The state can name two more members. Erie County and the Bills can name seven members each.
Cuomo wants the group to start meeting within two weeks.
Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL, Ralph Wilson Stadium
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