Downtown Buffalo needs stadium/convention center

With the Bills and Erie County struggling to agree on the terms of a new stadium lease, and Buffalo making progress developing its waterfront, building a new waterfront stadium/convention center in the heart of downtown should be given consideration. Just look at similar cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which have recently built downtown waterfront stadiums, and imagine what could be.

If we look at the bottom line, that is: What are the costs? And what are the benefits? The conclusion is simple: If done right, it could be just what this city needs. Most people think that a new stadium involves billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Simply not true. Reliant Stadium, built in 2002 for the Houston Texans, cost $352 million and is still relatively state of the art. Cleveland Browns Stadium, completed in 1999, cost $290 million and completely transformed the city’s waterfront.

Ralph Wilson Stadium is calling for $200 million just for a temporary fix to a completely outdated structure 25 minutes from the city. Put that money toward a new stadium, add in naming rights, the sale of Ralph Wilson Stadium, promised money from the state, and we’re almost there.

Having a stadium/convention center with regular attendance of 70,000-plus streaming into the city would also fuel business downtown, translating into real economic growth for Buffalo. This would in turn have a ripple effect, and stimulate the Western New York economy as a whole.

A stadium/convention center such as this could be used 30 to 50 times a year. It would be able to host college bowl games, playoff games, large concerts and other major events that the city cannot currently handle. It would be 30 minutes closer to Rochester and Toronto than the current stadium and have a great game day atmosphere for all to enjoy.

Colin Fitzgerald