Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today traveled to Buffalo to attend a ceremonial ribbon cutting opening the newly renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium ahead of the Buffalo Bills home opener against the Miami Dolphins. The $130 million in renovations include new video display boards, a West End plaza that includes a large new team store and enhanced gate entries, as well as renovated and expanded concessions throughout the stadium.
"With today's opening of the newly renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium, we are capping off what has been a great week for the Buffalo Bills, beginning with a huge win in Chicago on Sunday and news on Tuesday that Terry and Kim Pegula will purchase the team and keep the Bills right where they belong in Western New York," Governor Cuomo said. "Two years ago the State, the Bills, and the County came together to reach a landmark agreement to keep the Bills here in Buffalo and renovate The Ralph to make the stadium better for fans, and today we are proud to announce those renovations are complete and reaffirm the Bills are here to stay. Today is also an opportunity to honor the legacy of Ralph Wilson, who truly believed in Buffalo and the Bills for more than fifty years and helped forge the agreement to undertake these improvements to the stadium, as well as keep the team here in Western New York."
The agreement signed by Governor Cuomo, the Buffalo Bills, and Erie County in 2012 called for $130 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills contributed $35 million, the State supported the project with $54 million, and the County provided $41 million. The work was completed on time and on budget.
Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy said, We have two big wins to start the season; the Pegulas purchase of the team and our victory in game one. Western New Yorkers appreciate the Bills as an economic and emotional driver for their community. The same type of excitement we are seeing for the Bills future is also being felt across the region, as Governor Cuomos strategy for economic development attracts new businesses and jobs to the area. Fans and residents now have something you cant put a price tag on; pride and hope for the Bills and all of Western New York.
Russ Brandon, President and CEO of the Buffalo Bills, said, This unbelievable renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium is the culmination of the great vision of Mr. Wilson, the terrific support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and their staffs, the expertise of Populous and the hard work of the LP Ciminelli group along with countless others. On behalf of everyone in the Bills organization, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all these entities. We are excited about all of the fan-friendly elements that have been added during the renovation process in order to make the game day experience one of the best in the league for the best fans in the league.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "I am honored to be here today on behalf of all Erie County residents and particularly on behalf of the laborers, skilled workers and tradesmen who worked so hard and with such focus to complete these renovations on time and on budget. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and will be enjoyed by the many thousands of fans who will pass through these gates not only this season, but for years to come. The newly-renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium provides an upgraded, fan-friendly facility that will be better for all, and is a state of the art, long lasting legacy to Mr. Wilson. I would also like to thank our partners at the Bills and at New York State, for their commitment to this project and to the people of Erie County."
Stadium upgrades that have been completed include:
- Entrance gates have been pushed out toward the street, creating a much larger exterior concourse outside the stadium walls and allowing for live entertainment. Six new super gates have additional entry lanes, and each gate will has a video board to show pregame shows and highlights.
- A huge 8,500 square foot Bills Store is open for business behind the scoreboard with a glass exterior and a large Bills logo creating the stadiums signature look. The store can be accessed from the stadium or from the outside on nongame days.
- The current scoreboard will remain approximately the same size, but its video screen is now about 60 feet wider. New technology has also been used to create a crisper picture.
- Fans sitting in front of that scoreboard will have two smaller video scoreboards that they can view without having to turn around.
- Other changes include a new Bills-themed East End Lounge with food and drinks; an extensive rewiring project to expand wireless capabilities; a new commissary building for Delaware North; a freshening up of the lower-bowl concourse; a refurbishing of concession stands to provide more variety; and 22 percent more restroom space.
- The project has a long list of other changes that include safety upgrades; work to meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and infrastructure repairs.
Scott Radecic, Senior Principal at architecture firm Populous and former Bills linebacker, said, "The renovation at Ralph Wilson Stadium is entirely focused on the fan on their journey into the stadium and the experience they have inside. Walking into Ralph Wilson Stadium, fans will immediately notice the impact the renovations have had - a new video board, a complete plaza entry experience on the stadiums west side, concourse upgrades and a new team store providing a fan-centric, energized experience for this new chapter for the Bills. Its an exciting time for the team and the renovations elevate that excitement and momentum.