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WBEN Extra: Where Should The Next Buffalo Bills Stadium Be?

Site visits have begun and a NYS-hired consultant has started to work on a list of possible stadium locations that an eventual owner of the Buffalo Bills might want to consider. What are the issues around various sites?  Where should it go? and Buffalo's Early News took a look Wednesday morning.

Where Should The Stadium go?

at The Bottom of this Page
Which location do you think is best for a new stadium?
( 30% )
Outer Harbor
( 31% )
Niagara Falls
( 19% )
Batavia area
( 20% )
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Click on each name to listen

Matt Sabuda, Buffalo Fan Alliance  
George Hasiotis, Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex 
Carl Paladino, Ellicott Development Co.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster
Commercial broker George Hamberger. Realty USA
and from earlier this week: Greg Pope, Buffalo Sportz Corridor

AECOM, a California-based architectural and design firm, was hired to identify three to four sites across the region that could serve as the team's new home. The firm will work with sports business attorney Irwin Raij, who is heading Gov. Andrew Cuomo's efforts to keep the Bills in the region.

AECOM officials were to  begin touring sites on May 12, and have until July 11 to produce a feasibility study, which will eventually be distributed to prospective ownership groups. Sites could potentially include Buffalo as well as Niagara Falls.

The study will include estimates on the facility's revenue-generating potential through seats, suites, sponsorship, parking and concessions.The firm also will study the potential for developing real estate around the potential stadium sites, and consider the benefits and costs of building a stadium with a retractable roof. (Pictured at rightt , the Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex's Outer Harbor proposal, with a retractable roof )

Ralph Wilson Stadium, which opened in 1973, is currently undergoing $130 million in renovations to upgrade the structure and add new amenities.  Officials, however, believe having the framework of a new stadium plan in place would help represent the region's commitment to keeping the Bills to a new owner and the NFL.

WONKS WEIGH IN: Two Regional Planning Experts On Possible Stadium Sites
While the details of a state consultant report are likely to stay private at first, there is a list of usual suspects that have already been put forth into the public eye, including The Buffalo Waterfront with two competing proposals for the outer harbor, Elsewhere in Downtown Buffalo-- (The Perry Projects or The Waterfront School),  Niagara Falls or Batavia. We asked two experts about the issues around them all.
James Allen, Amherst IDA, lecturer in UB Urban and Regional Planning Dept

Transportation & What's Nearby: "One of the biggest issues is getting in and out .. to the stadium. Once that has been resolved, I think the next thing is that it be in an area where there are other things"

"I think it could have phenomenal impact if it were downtown, similar to what they did in Baltimore with Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium."

On the Waterfront?: " I think there's a case for it sure, but the .. issue is how do you get in and out of the site. It's not that easy right now with the Skyway. I suppose if you have ten years to make your decision you could solve that problem. I think you could make a very strong case for that."

Buffalo River Brownfields?:  "I suppose if you think that if in the next ten years you are going to have an influx of factories on that site, then it doesn't make sense. But if you don't think that, then you can look at alternatives (there)"

Niagara Falls ? Batavia?: " If you are coming from the south it's not as easy to get to Niagara Falls as it is to get to Orchard Park right now. As far as Pembroke is concerned, I think that makes a lot of sense, but again one thing I think it lacks is.. other things around it for economic development. "
Bruce Fisher, SUNY Buffalo State's Center for Economic & Policy Studies

Definitely Downtown: "We need to be talking about transportation, we need to be taking about adjacency to existing hospitality business, and frankly, we need to be talking about making the city the entertainment destination of the region again."

"I've measured  how long you have to walk to get from ECC south's parking lot to the Ralph today. it's almost two thirds of a mile. Two thirds of a mile in downtown Buffalo takes you past every hotel, every saloon, every restaurant. It's about putting stuff next to other stuff. " 

Already owned: " The two best sites in terms of adjacency, in terms of transportation, are Niagara Street (Waterfront School) and the Perry Projects ...."
"In terms of site control, it's easiest to deal with sites that are controlled by the public sector already."

Fisher says the Waterfront school area has a footprint that would "be the same as the Ralph, the same as the fieldhouse, and a lot of parking."

Niagara Falls?: " The argument is that you'd catch more Canadians. That's not a very good argument because right now the behavior pattern is that 85 to 90 percent of the market is going to be Americans."

While we've heard about potential stadium sites along the Waterfront and Niagara Falls, one developer says look east to Genesee County.

"I really think locating in Batavia, which is the center of Western New York, is the best spot to get the most customers," says developer Tony Mancuso.

Mancuso says the travel time can be shorter for some fans.

"Some of your people who live in Amherst told me it takes them 42 minutes to get to Orchard Park and it takes 28 minutes to get to Batavia using Route 5, so even for some in Buffalo and Niagara Falls it wouldn't take as long, considering some of the roads here," explains Mancuso.

The land itself is north of Thruway Exit 48. "We are light years ahead of everyone else because we already have the land zoned. We've got the land with utilities and not just pipes in the ground but the actual capacity to back up what the stadium would need, and a great road system to bring in fans from north, east, south and west," says Mancuso.

Mancuso says while he feels Batavia is his first choice, he'll gladly back whatever recommendation the Bills Stadium Working Group committee makes.

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Locations : AmherstBataviaBuffaloGenesee CountyNew YorkWestern New York
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