Let’s Do It Right, and Move the Buffalo Bills Stadium Downtown [Opinion]
How many times have we heard that building Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park hurt Buffalo's Economic Development. With the team in negotiations for a new lease, now is the time to rectify that mistake. Yes, it will cost over half-a-billion in taxpayer dollars, but stadium upgrades will cost 100 to 200 million. Wouldn't money be better spent on a new stadium downtown? If the return on investment is a thriving downtown economy, let's do it right this time and spend the money. It will spark an urban renewal with a revival or restaurants, hotels and tourism and bring people from the suburbs back to downtown.
When the Colorado Rockies built Coors Field in 1995 it had an imediate impact, doubling housing units within a year of completion and had a yearly economic impact of $195 million. Sure the economic impact of downtown stadiums vary, but doesn't a football stadium near the waterfront give us our best opportunity to grow. It would serve to attract more visitors every Sunday and give the waterfront the anchor it needs to spur business around it.
The argument could be made that a downtown stadium would only help on Game Day, but the idea being tossed around at this week's common council meeting proposed an attached Convention Center making it a multi-purpose facility. A great idea, but still not big enough. Don't stop there, Buffalo is a hockey town with tons of kids needing ice time. Build an adjacent ice hockey rink, indoor basketball courts and gym owned by the County to generate our own revenue. Open an ampitheater. Plop a sixteen screen movieplex down there too. Make it a destination for all seasons.
Remember when Buffalo hosted the NCAA basketball tournament, or the World Juniors. Those events made Buffalo a destination and had a significant impact on local restaurants and hotels. Imagine that impact every week. Now imagine that impact over 20 years, the length of time it would take to really feel the effects. Let's not wait any longer. Start the transistion now, so future generations can benefit.