Much can be learned about potential stadium sites from the recent contract between the state and AECOM, a Los Angeles-based firm that has performed a host of work, from design to site selection, on a number of professional and college sports stadiums.
AECOM, whose team was to have started scouting sites May 12, will be looking at local land-use laws, zoning analyses, market and financial feasibility, as well as traffic planning, cost estimates and potential environmental regulatory hurdles.
While it will look at a dozen or so sites, the contract calls for the firm to identify three, and no more than four, sites in a final report due by July 11.
The state envisions the firm’s work being used to help the state, as well as future team owners, guide future decisions about a new stadium.
The contract calls for a review of each site that includes “the size of the site, transportation access, the potential for ancillary development, potential revenue and the need for new infrastructure.”
The state also wants a review from five other stadium projects around the country looking at a number of “key variables,” such as seating capacity, public sector financial support and attendance levels.
Other considerations include the “complexity of acquisition” of a site, and what new roads, water lines or other infrastructure might be needed.
Without elaborating, the contract also calls for the firm to consider “the specific needs of the Buffalo fan base and community.” The firm will not be identifying any potential sites in Ontario, officials said, despite speculation about that possibility.
The sites will also be differentiated by potential revenue opportunities, presumably not just for the team but for the community and the state and local governments that likely will be asked to help finance a new stadium.
The firm is being asked to look at a range of stadium cost estimates for construction – “including alternate costs for a retractable roof” – and other costs, from professional services to expenses for seats and fixtures.
The state is going out of its way in hoping the next owner makes a new stadium site more than just a football facility, but includes, as the contract repeatedly notes, “ancillary development,” which likely includes anything from retail opportunities to year-round entertainment options.