BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Fans will notice some big changes at Ralph Wilson Stadium when the season kicks off just a few months from now, but the changes come with a price: $130 million.
Thirty-five million dollars is coming from the Bills, but most of it is coming from taxpayers – $54 million from the state, and $41 million from Erie County.
During a media tour, team officials announced the stadium’s “extreme makeover” is about 65 percent complete, and team officials are predicting it will be ready for the Bills’ home opener.
Bills’ fans can already see many of the changes: a larger state-of-the-art scoreboard, wheelchair accessible seating, and a new Bills team store, being built right up front that will quadruple the floor space of the existing store at the Wilson Fieldhouse.
There will also be open air concession areas, where fans can get away for a breather, and the inside concession stands and restrooms will be more convenient for the “12th Man” and woman.
“Alleviates some of the traffic in the concourses,” pointed out Marc Honan, the Bills’ chief marketing officer. “By having some outdoor concessions here, fans will actually take advantage of them during the game, because it is not as hard to get to, it is easier to get to, and it’s quicker,” Honan added.
But after all this, if a new stadium is necessary to keep the Bills in Western New York, several sites have been named, and now a new site has suddenly come up in West Seneca, next to where the old Seneca Mall used to be.
West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan is surprised by talk of a new stadium in her town, because no one has brought up the subject to her, “We have not had any conversations with anyone regarding the NFL stadium in the Town of West Seneca.”
More importantly, the possible developer for the stadium site, S&R Group of Syracuse, has been working with town officials to re-develop the old mall.
Meegan likes what she sees.
“Does have a hotel. It has some apartment living, some condos. It has a movie theatre that could also be multi-purposed as a convention center type – small venue.”
Meegan says the developer and the town are already out of the starting gate with the $700 million redevelopment project at the old mall.
The town has commissioned a $33,000 study of the 55-acre site, and if she had to make a choice between a new stadium and redeveloping the old Seneca Mall, right now, Meegan said she would probably choose the mall.