Four locations are under consideration in Downtown Buffalo to build a new Bills Stadium. The Cobblestone District is listed as one of these four. The other three locations are Exchange Street, South Park Site, or staying in Orchard Park and building a new stadium. This article adapted from Buffalo Rising focuses on the advantages of building the stadium at the South Park Site, which is in walking distance from parking options already serving the Cobblestone District, Canalside, and Keybank Center. The full article can be found here : buffalorising.com
Here is what author Ryan Miller argues for building the stadium at South Park Site :
Looking at the location of the stadium above in relation to all of the progress and growth that Buffalo has seen in recent years, it is hard to imagine a more perfect spot for a stadium in the city. Allow me to try to paint a picture of some of the unique amenities this location offers.
Consider a scenario where you are going to meet up with some of your friends before a game at the new stadium on the “South Park Site.” You plan on having a few drinks throughout the day. You want to enjoy yourself, and not have to worry about driving home after the game. You decide to hop on the Metro Rail, which lets you off at the new DL&W terminal station. You step outside and head towards Canalside to meet up with your friends, and enjoy the various the attractions and entertainment options that has made Canalside Buffalo’s top destinations for both locals and tourists.
While you are in the area, maybe you could stop at the new Southern Tier Brewery at Harborcenter, The Labatt House/The Draft Room (reopening soon), or the Other Half Brewery at Seneca One for a beverage or brunch.
You and your friends decide to stop at one of those spots, have a drink, and then step back outside. It’s a crisp fall morning and you are greeted by the warm and familiar scent of cheerios being made at the nearby by General Mills factory. You feel at home. You feel connected to your city, all of the progress it is making, the people that call it home, and the team that bears its name. You are feeling so good about Buffalo and the Bills that you wish you could put down some money on the Bills today. They are going to win big, everybody knows it. Suddenly, you remember, that you can put down money on the Bills (or any other NFL game for that matter) by simply walking 5-10 minutes towards the stadium to the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino. While you’re over there, maybe you could check out Hofbräuhaus Buffalo, Ballyhoo, or Swannie House? After you place your wager, you and your friends head closer to the stadium. There’s still time for one more drink before kickoff, and Riverworks, Resurgence, and Hartman’s are perfectly situated on the doorstep of the new stadium for one last beverage prior to heading in for the game.
The above example, while romanticized to a certain degree by yours truly, does a nice job of highlighting some of the unique aspects of the “South Park Site.” An experience like the one above is something that could seriously change the perspective and narrative around Buffalo for people from outside the area that come to town for a Bills game. I have previously argued, Buffalo does not do a good enough job of forcing out-of-towners to spend time (and money) in the city. Bills game are probably the single biggest reason for someone with no ties to Western New York to come here. The Bills are really our single biggest chance to show our city off, and a stadium on a desolate sea of parking lots in Orchard Park is does us no favors in that regard. With an Orchard Park stadium, it is frighteningly possible for people to come and go for a Bills game, never once set foot in the City of Buffalo, and leave thinking that Southwestern Boulevard is the major thoroughfare Buffalo has to offer. In short, we are doing a little too good of a job at “Keeping Buffalo a Secret.”
Imagine all the money that could be spent at locally owned restaurants, businesses, and hotels in the city of Buffalo, that is instead going to generic, corporate, chain restaurants and hotels in the suburbs with the current Orchard Park stadium. When you also consider the additional potential for sports and entertainment events besides NFL football at the new stadium, it makes even more sense to bring the people that are coming here for said events to Buffalo, not Orchard Park.
What about tailgating?
Perhaps the best thing about the “South Park Site,” in my opinion, is that as the largest of all the possible sites (including Orchard Park), it still has somewhat of sprawling, wide-open feel (especially to the south), that would lend itself well to tailgating and some replication of the atmosphere that many people love so much about the Orchard Park stadium. In addition to the proposed “Area to Create More Parking” in the Google Maps picture above, there is an abundance of green space and undeveloped land to the south of the “South Park Site.” Anyone who has been on a Buffalo River boat tour, knows how much of that area is still untouched and ripe with opportunity for development. I could see public and private parking lots and tailgating areas like those in Orchard Park being constructed in some of these areas to the south, with the option to walk or (depending on how far away) take a shuttle or the NFTA Metro Rail to the stadium.
I know one of the most common reasons that people are against a stadium in the city are the implications on tailgating, but I think that we are greatly underestimating the ingenuity of #BillsMafia with this. Bills fans will find a way to tailgate and have a good time no matter where the stadium is. Look no further than some of the videos from the 2018 playoff game in Jacksonville for example.
No city stadium will ever exactly replicate the current environment in Orchard Park, but the options for tailgating at the South Park site are honestly quite extensive. The area is easily accessible by personal vehicle by multiple exits off the I-190, and in addition to tailgating in the proposed parking areas outlined north of the potential stadium, there is also massive potential for tailgating within some of the existing parking ramp structures of Canalside/Cobblestone District, or potentially even the creation of a new parking ramp structure/tower specifically for the Bills stadium that would also allow tailgating inside the ramp.
With the ability to create a somewhat similar environment to Orchard Park at the “South Park Site” in terms of tailgating and atmosphere, I think it is foolish to let that issue alone prevent a stadium from going in the city. I encourage people to consider the bigger picture of what a stadium in the city could do for Buffalo and Erie County; and the people that live, work, and pay taxes here. As outlined above, there would still be an option for tailgating to be preserved to a significant degree, but this stadium would also provide additional options for the pregame experience besides tailgating, such as being able to go out to brunch, have a few drinks at a local brewery or distillery, or laying down a wager on the game at the casino before walking over to the game. Some people may end up preferring that option. The nice thing about this location is there is something for everyone, no matter what their particular preference for spending gameday is.
Last, but certainly not least, the “South Park Site” would allow #BillsMafia to take their tailgating game to the next level, because the publicly accessible Buffalo River would allow for fans to finally experience one of the rarest and most elite tailgating experiences known to man: tailgating on a boat, which has been affectionately dubbed “Sailgating.”
I know a stadium in the city is a highly complex, divisive, and highly politicized issue that everyone has a slightly different opinion on. There are additional variables that would still need to be worked out regarding the “South Park Site.” In addition to the Commodore Perry Complex, there is a residential neighborhood in the First Ward that closely borders this site, and the residents of that neighborhood need to be considered and involved in the decision-making process and planning if this site is chosen. We also need to ensure that concessions are made within this project to ensure the long-term protection, environmental integrity, and viability of the Buffalo River going forward.
Many people also have additional valid concerns about wanting a roof on the stadium, increasing the seating capacity, the presence of an adjacent convention center, and whether the stadium could host a Super Bowl. If those are potential concerns of yours, I encourage you to support the “South Park Site” plan for a stadium in the city, because all of those variables are far more likely to come to fruition if the stadium goes in the City of Buffalo, with the plan of it being the centerpiece of a larger city planning project that massively improves public transportation, stimulates residential and commercial development, and leads to the net long-term growth of Buffalo and Erie County both economically and socially for generations to come.
I encourage all of you to think critically about what is at stake here for the long-term future of Buffalo and Erie County, and consider how this will not only affect you, but your neighbor and your children. Look past the fact that taxpayer money is being used, because like it or not, that is the reality of doing business with the NFL. Instead, focus on demanding that our elected officials fight to use our money to create a stadium and city planning project that best serves the needs of the community that is paying for the it both now and in the future. After doing so, I hope you will see that a stadium in the city, specifically at the “South Park Site,” is the only logical choice.
If you agree please take a moment to SIGN the petition below (and more importantly) SHARE it with others so that our collective voice can be heard!