Another day, another NFL team asking for stadium upgrades. Today it’s the Tennessee Titans, who are seeking renovations to 12-year-old LP Field:
Upgrades to everything between and underneath must be examined before the Bills and Erie County can move forward on a lease extension.
The Bills hired Populous, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., to conduct an exhaustive study of Ralph Wilson Stadium’s infrastructure. The study will determine how much necessary improvements will cost.
Wait, hold on, wrong article! That one is about how the Buffalo Bills, who are seeking renovations to their field, 38-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium, which was just renovated in 1997. The Titans are seeking $25 million in upgrades to the sound system, scoreboards, and concessions areas; the Bills want an estimated $100 million or more in improvements to concourses, restrooms, and concessions areas, among other things.
Also likely different is how the two teams plan to pay for upgrades. The Titans are looking to use an already existing ticket tax, which they would raise from $2 to $3 — something that largely comes out of their own pockets, say economists, since it limits the price that they can get away with charging fans in face value. Bills execs, meanwhile, haven’t said who’ll pay for improvements, but it’s clear it wouldn’t be them:
“Cost is an unknown and could be in a wide range,” Erie County Executive Chris Collins said. “I’m expecting New York State to pay for these improvements. But you can’t sit down and have meaningful negotiations until this study is complete.”
The difference: The Titans are in the middle of their lease, while the Bills’ current lease with Erie County expires next year, giving them leverage to demand subsidies or else move to Toronto or Los Angeles or someplace like that. (Not that anyone from the Bills would threaten that aloud, but there are plenty of other people to do it for them.) So we have the prospect of Jets and Giants fans (and, um, me) helping to pay for improvements to their rivals’ stadium.
The hope would be that the Bills would at least agree to share some of their increased profits with taxpayers in the new lease in exchange for renovations, but I really wouldn’t be holding my breath there, unless some savvy negotiators in the state legislature can … er, never mind.