Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Sites are being looked at around Western New York to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Howard Simon and Jeremy White tackled two communities on Thursday that both think would be a great place for a stadium. Today we'll talk about Niagara Falls and tomorrow, Batavia.
Paul Dyster is both on the committee looking for a new place, but is also the Mayor of Niagara Falls which wants the new venue. Dyster told the boys, “Every single community in Western New York has a stake in keeping the Bills. If we keep the Bills, we’re all winners and if we lose them, we’re all losers, so from my perspective, I’m not on the new stadium working group to argue for a Niagara Falls stadium, I’m there to find the best alternative and then make it happen.”
In the end Dyster is the Mayor of Niagara Falls and he said, “From the perspective of Niagara Falls it’s the ability to host NFL games, adds to the range of different activities that are available in a place that already has an international reputation.”
The Bills have hit the Southern Ontario market very hard and many ticket holders come across the border. Dyster thinks that makes Niagara Falls perfect, “There’s the issue of the proximity to Canada, you can’t get any closer to the Southern Ontario market than you are in Niagara Falls.” Dyster added, “From everything that I’ve heard, Southern Ontario has surpassed Rochester and is likely to remain in the number two position in terms of where season ticket holders are coming from, so it’s important to serve that Ontario market.”
Judging what Dyster said, it sounds like many Canadians would rather come over the border for a Bills game than Toronto, “I know from talking to colleagues on the Canadian side that locating in Ontario itself is really not a viable option for them. They love the tailgating experience. A lot of them when the games are played at the Rogers Center, giveaway their tickets because they’re not so interested to go to the games there, so there’s something about the way we do football on the American side that’s attractive to them.”
Even when there’s an event at a small venue like Artpark, the Grand Island bridges can get backed up. Dyster said, “That’s why we have experts, we’ve got the world’s largest architecture and engineering firm in AECOM and I’m assuming if you’re going to build a stadium and it’s going to cost you a billion bucks, throwing a few million in there for infrastructure probably isn’t a deal breaker. The current stadium isn’t on an expressway. The nearest access route is Route 219, a mile or two away. You’ve got a similar situation in Niagara Falls. Our average vehicle count on the Grand Island Bridge is about 50 thousand and it’s a lot higher than that during summer tourist seasons, so it’s not like this is a place were people aren’t coming already. They could add additional exits on the Robert Moses Parkway to allow traffic to get to the bridge sooner would be an obvious one, but I’ll leave that to the experts.”
If a stadium is going to be built in Niagara Falls, Dyster said there aren’t multiple sites, “If you’re talking about the city proper, Milstein’s property is probably the only property large enough. He’s got a development area that totals roughly 140 acres. I think the existing stadium sits on a 200 acre parcel, so you’re somewhere in the ballpark.”
The city isn’t the only place in Niagara County that can house a stadium. Dyster thinks you can go past Niagara Falls, “You can move out into the suburbs like the Town of Wheatfield or the Town of Niagara. You can also go out towards the Summit Park Mall.”