The Buffalo Bills and New York State signed an agreement of understanding on Friday, officially coming to terms on a new 10-year lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium. As part of this agreement, $130 million in upgrades will be made to the aging facility, which opened for business in 1973.
These upgrades are designed to "enhance the fan experience," per team CEO Russ Brandon. According to the official documents filed with the governor's office, three major projects will be undertaken:
- Implementation of new technology throughout the building to improve the overall fan experience. This will include new video display boards in the east end of the stadium.
- Creation of a new west end plaza, inclusive of a new team store and enhanced gate entries.
- Renovated and expanded concessions experience for all fans.
Following infrastructure revisions in 2013, new concessions and updated restrooms will greet fans by the end of 2014. Hopefully, the Bills will also add wireless internet access for fans, as cell reception is generally terrible in and around the stadium.
"It’s going to update the technology of the building (to the point) where we’re a state of the art franchise in terms of the technology elements we provide our fan base," said Brandon. "It’s going to update restrooms, update concessions and provide new options for concessions."
The team will also add a second video board opposite the high-definition unit they installed in 2007. Dimensions haven't been announced, but it will likely rest over the club seats on the East side of the Ralph.
The noticeable change is the plaza. Brandon called it a new "communal gathering space," and it's the only announced change to the footprint of the stadium. An expanded entrance and centralized location for the team store - now located on the south side near the Bills Healthy Zone (the team's fieldhouse) - will "change the front door of the stadium."
The money for these upgrades comes from the state, Erie County, and the Bills themselves. Per the governor's release, "the state will contribute $54 million and the county will contribute $41 million," with the team providing the remaining $35 million. The county remains the owner of the stadium.