SBD/October 21, 2011/Facilities

Bills Hire Populous To Assess Improvements Needed To Ralph Wilson Stadium

Renovations are not expected to include adding more club seats or suites

The Bills have hired architect Populous to "conduct an exhaustive study of Ralph Wilson Stadium's infrastructure," according to a front-page piece by Graham & Gaughan of the BUFFALO NEWS. The study, which Populous began "about four months ago," will determine "how much necessary improvements will cost." Populous Senior Exec and former Bills LB Scott Radecic hope to have the study "done by the end of the season." Until the study is complete, the Bills and Erie County "can't broker a lease extension because they won't know how much money they'll ask from the state." The price tag "will be in the tens of millions and likely well past $100 million." Erie County Exec Chris Collins said, "Cost is an unknown and could be in a wide range. I'm expecting New York State to pay for these improvements. But you can't sit down and have meaningful negotiations until this study is complete." Bills Owner Ralph Wilson last month said that he thought the stadium "would be adequate for 'the next 10 or 15 years' if properly maintained." Sources said that the Bills "expect to sign a 10-year lease extension that would coincide with the collective bargaining agreement the NFL and its players brokered this summer." Most improvements to the 38-year-old stadium "would be basic and largely unnoticeable to fans." Bills CEO Russ Brandon said the areas for upgrading are "not the sexiest elements you'd think of" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/21). Brandon added that the renovations are "necessary in order to keep the stadium viable and competitive with many of the NFL's newer facilities to help ensure the Bills long-term future in western New York." He noted that the team is considering making changes "both inside the stadium and outside," but he "all but ruled out adding more club seats or suites." Collins has had "informal talks with the Bills over the past year, and expects the cost of the project to be included in lease negotiations" (AP, 10/20).

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