Bills stadium renovations win raves, county exec says building can “last for 30 years” now

Not everybody hates their team’s new stadium: The Buffalo Bills (okay, their stadium is the same old one, just renovated on the public dime) got rave reviews from fans, according to the Buffalo News, with plaudits for the new gates, bigger stairways and restrooms, and expanded scoreboards. One fan even suggested that the renovations had people swearing less than usual:

“There’s a lot less drunkenness. People have more respect,” said [Jennifer] Shanahan, whose gold Buffalo Bills earrings gleamed in the sun. “Everyone is so much happier.”

It’s football utopia! Except for the part where the NFL wants to tear all this down and build a new stadium, something that the News doesn’t actually get around to mentioning in this article.

There are hints, though, that everybody could be backing away from the new-stadium talk, at least for the moment. At the ribbon-cutting for the renovated stadium, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz made one of the strongest statements yet in favor of sticking with the Bills’ current home:

“I’d ask for everyone to kind of sit back and let’s take a look and see how we’re doing here in this next year or so, because we know the facility structurally can last another 30 years. There’s a difference between infrastructure viability and long-term economic viability. I feel very confident if we do this right, not only will the facility last for 30 years but the economic viability of this facility will last to for years to come.”

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has flip-flopped on this issue multiple times this year, added: “The Bills are staying. The stadium’s good. Let’s stay right here for a while. Let’s win today, and the future will take care of itself.”

Added to the recent Buffalo News article signaling that Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s purchase of the team makes stadium talks “less urgent,” and it certainly sounds like someone in the NFL has gotten the message that this is a bad time to be asking for a new stadium, and the Bills can just live with their $200 million in existing state subsidies for the time being. Clearly my work is done here.

7 comments on “Bills stadium renovations win raves, county exec says building can “last for 30 years” now

  1. I would guess the less drunkenness has to do with it still being the beginning of the season, where fans can still have some hope the team will do better this year. Lets wait till after they are eliminated from the playoffs (which is likely this year) to say for sure that it has really improved.

  2. I’m pretty sure we’re now living in a world where architects and engineers CAN build a stadium that lasts more than 30 years.

    Let’s see… Hoover Dam, Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge… Yup, looks like we can engineer structures that’ll last more than 30 years.

  3. True Mike, but the basic structure of what was once Rich stadium has been up for 40+ years already as I recall.

    In regard to entertainment facilities, I think most are rendered obsolete (or “uneconomic” as advocates for subsidy like to say) by changes in consumer wants/needs and health & safety regulations than by actual decrepitude.

    I’m certainly not advocating for “new everything every year and someone else paying for it”, but there does come a time (in my experience often 60-80 years after construction) where a building just can’t be modified to current standards without investing as much/near what a new one would cost. That doesn’t mean that the Falcons or Rams ‘need’ new facilities after less than 20 years, obviously.

    I did always wonder how the Yankees kept the H&S people at bay with the shocking incline of their upper deck at the old stadium though. And if there had ever been a major fire there (? I’m assuming there wasn’t… don’t really know), I’ve no idea how all those people could have funnelled out quickly. Some changes to regulation are for the better.

  4. John: I’m not sure the new stadium can be evacuated any more quickly — the old one had the benefit of horizontal aisles in the front of each deck, so you could go to the next ramp if the one you were nearest to was clogged. And the new stadium is heavily reliant on elevators for circulation, which isn’t ideal in an emergency.

    There was a renovation plan for the old Yankee Stadium (the new old Yankee Stadium, I mean), put out by Fernando Ferrer in 1998. I’ll see if I can dig it up and see what it says about safety issue and/or deck incline.

  5. Interesting Neil. A very small contributor to “new” stadium construction costs is the much higher percentage of in-stadium space that has to be allotted to wider walkways, stairways and emergency exits in new facilities. I would never have thought the new stadium could be approved or built without better egress… much less given an occupancy certificate by the FD (and other agencies).

  6. The old stadium was entirely rebuilt in the 1970s, so it’s not like it was grandfathered in under prewar safety regs or something.

  7. 30 years? That’s CRAZY talk! If you are a sports franchise-ownin’ billionaire who doesn’t have his hand out at the public trough at least every 5 years or so, you aren’t doing your due diligence, because Public Stadium Cash, baby!