The Bills yesterday released renderings of Ralph Wilson Stadium renovation plans for '14. Among the changes announced are a new in-stadium lounge, improved points of entry and WiFi throughout the venue. New "super gates" will allow quicker entry into the stadium. The change means the number of entry points will go from the current nine gates to six super gates, which will be pushed out from the stadium to increase the perimeter of the complex. The current scoreboard will maintain its height, but will grow by more than 60 feet as sponsor boards are taken from their current locations and more video screen is added. Two new HD videoboards will be added above the tunnel endzones to give fans on the opposite side, below the current scoreboard, a better view. A new LED digital board will also be added for sponsor signage. On the first floor of the old administration building on the tunnel side of the stadium, a new walk-in lounge will feature a sports bar-like atmosphere. With the addition of a commissary building on the exterior of the building, new food offerings with local flair will boost the selection and quality of concessions. The most noticeable change from the exterior of the stadium will be a greatly expanded Bills Store with a year-round presence. Additional changes include restroom space being increased by 22%, the press box moving from its current location on the 50-yard line to the current Red Zone Club in the corner of the tunnel endzone and new dedicated lots with direct access to the stadium gates to improve entry for fans with disabilities (Bills).
NFL owners yesterday voted to "approve league funding" to cover a portion of a $27M FedExField renovation, according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. Sources said that the league's funding "will come in the form of a waiver of revenue contributions from club-seat premiums that the Redskins normally would have to make to other teams and the league." It was "not immediately clear" how much of the $27M renovation "will be covered by the league's funding." A source on Monday said that the renovation "includes Wi-Fi, seating modifications, ribbon boards" and a team HOF expansion. The Redskins confirmed that renovations will "include Wi-Fi and digital signage but declined to specify what seating modifications will be made or to provide further details" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/8).
DAWG POUND: In Akron, Nate Ulrich reports owners yesterday approved $62.5M in funding for improvements at FirstEnergy Stadium as part of a Browns renovation project that is "expected to cost a total" of about $120M (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/9).
Bell Centre in Montreal is the "only pro sports site in North America to use only LEDs to light its playing surface," and a big reason other arena operators have "resisted making the switch" is the payback period, according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Canadiens Exec VP & GM of Facilities Operations Alain Gauthier last year replaced all of the older lights at Bell Centre "with 140 costlier light-emitting diode fixtures, or LEDs, which produce three times as much light on the ice for each watt of energy and last far longer -- an investment that he says will take only about two years to pay back." Gauthier expects to "save about $125,000 a year on electricity, parts and labor." Gauthier is "a lonely front-runner in sports lighting, though LEDs are gaining wider adoption in airports, stores and many other places." So-called performance lights "are the No. 1 or No. 2 consumers of electricity in arenas and stadiums." While prices "vary widely, LEDs cost about $1,500 each, roughly four times as much as incandescent lamps." Other factors "limiting adoption are more specific to sports." LEDs do "an excellent job of lighting specific locations, but illuminating wider spaces -- like baseball, football and soccer fields -- is more problematic." Sports leagues are "studying LEDs and gathering the opinions of players, referees and broadcasters." But teams have "varying priorities because their buildings vary by age and architecture." Nine NHL teams share arenas with NBA teams, and "each league has its own lighting rules." Leagues must "vet manufacturers for cost and reliability." NHL Dir of Sustainability Omar Mitchell said, "It’s something that is going to happen, it’s just a question of when we are going to release our standards" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/9).
GOING GREEN: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL this week features an in-depth examination of sustainability, with looks at the 49ers' new Levi's Stadium, Amway Center, Nationals Park, Moda Center, Xcel Energy Center, college athletic programs, green-friendly marketing and athletes supporting green-related causes (THE DAILY).