One of the more famous lines from the movie "Field of Dreams" is "if you build it, he will come". When it comes to the future of the Buffalo Bills, we can ask "if we build it, will they stay?"
The "it" is a new stadium, although the issue might not have to be tackled depending on the outcome of the sale of the team. The four person group overseeing the trust of the late Ralph Wilson might have a deal done before the 2014 Bills open training camp on July 20th at St. John Fisher.
After that the sale must be approved by the NFL which could happen as early as October. If it doesn't happen at those meetings, the league approval vote should take place no later than March so the issue of who will be the next owner of the Bills will be decided first. If the team is sold to out of town interests that have no desire to keep the team in Western New York then the debate about new stadium versus renovated stadium will become moot.
If the Bills are sold to local interests who plan on keeping the team in WNY long term, the stadium question will eventually have to be answered.
When it comes to the possible construction of a new stadium, everyone will surely want to know where it will be located but two of the most important questions will also be how much it will cost and who is paying for it?
I would be shocked if a new owner comes in and promises to foot the entire bill. My guess is we will be asked to pay a portion of the bill in some way, shape or form.
There are some eye popping numbers out there if you start researching costs for recent NFL stadiums. The Atlanta Falcons new stadium will cost over one billion dollars while the Minnesota Vikings new home, which will host a Super Bowl, is pegged at just under one billion. San Francisco will open its new park this season and it was built at a cost of $1.3 billion. The two most recent stadiums to have opened up are MetLife Stadium in New Jersey($1.6 billion) and AT&T Stadium in Dallas($1.3 billion).
Those are rather hefty price tags which would A) put the new owner of the Bills deeper in debt and B) set taxpayers back more than a few bucks. I don't mind helping out since my job is tied into the existence of professional sports teams in Buffalo but I'm about to celebrate our son going off to college and I'm still dealing with the sticker shock from the bill for his freshman year.
I find it hard to believe there wouldn't be stadium designs that would include whatever the new owner needs to remain competitive in the future NFL while also being mindful of the market and our collective budget. In fact, there are plenty of stadiums that have been built which didn't include the word billion in the price tag.
Thanks to Wikipedia, I found a rundown on what each stadium cost to build and what that cost would be in 2014 dollars: Philadephia $512 million(actual)/ $656 million (2014 dollars) Arizona $455 million(actual)/$532 million( 2014 dollars) The stadium has a retractable roof and hosted Super Bowl XLII
Cincinnati $455/623 Seattle $430/564 Detroit $430/564 (a domed stadium that hosted Super Bowl XL)
Denver $400/534 Houston $352/462( the stadium has a retractable roof and hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII)
New England $325/ 426 Cleveland $283/ 401 Pittsburgh $281/ 374 Carolina $248/ 373
For those of you who prefer renovations as opposed to building a brand new stadium, Kansas City spent $375 million to renovate Arrowhead Stadium. Green Bay paid out $435 million to cover two separate phases in the renovation of Lambeau Field and Chicago essentially kept the outside of Soldier Field but built an entirely new interior for a cost of $587 million.
As I said, all of this is moot if the next owner of the Bills wants no part of keeping the team in WNY and lets hope that will not happen. If the team does stay and a new stadium is a necessity as opposed to a wish list item, if we build it, it doesn't have to cost a billion dollars.