Here's a little piece I submitted to the 'My View' column of the Buffalo News, but which was not used. Let me know what you think!
While the creation of a new stadium, if one is to be built, is likely almost a decade away, the planning process and feasibility studies are already, as is well documented, commencing.
I have listened avidly to arguments for and against multiple spots for such an endeavor, including Niagara Falls, Batavia, West Seneca, it’s current location in OP and downtown Buffalo, amongst others. I am among those who support a new stadium downtown, near Father Conway Park or the Perry projects, and this is my attempt to convince you as to why.
If we are to build a new stadium, it should be in a place to do the most good for whatever tax dollars are sunk into it. A domed stadium, retractable or not, gives the facility far more flexibility to hold events other than NFL games. My proposition is a domed stadium with access to a simple extension of the metro rail, which will also be Buffalo’s new convention center. After a brief conversation with a friend in the Convention and Visitors Bureau, a convention center of this magnitude, along with the First Niagara Center and the soon-to-be-completed Harbor Center, would allow Buffalo to become a major player for an incredible amount of events at which we currently have no shot. Martial arts, cheer and dance competitions and multiple D-III events just start the conversation, not to mention Final Four basketball and other such large competitions, would be in play. Some may scoff at Buffalo being a convention hub, but being less than a 5-hour drive from places like Detroit, Ottawa, Cleveland, Pittsburg and Toronto among other smaller cities is an important piece of the puzzle for mid-level events.
If we are going to build a new stadium, it is going to need some form of taxpayer money. Why wouldn’t we then try to get the most tax revenue back from such a building? Placing it in any other spot makes it far less likely we as a city and county can reap the hundreds of millions of dollars a connected Convention Center will reimburse over the lifetime of the facility in both tax revenue and outside money thereby spent in the Buffalo/Niagara region.
As for the football games, let me start by saying I’ve been a season ticket holder for most of the last dozen years, and a ‘diehard’ Bills fan. I enjoy the tailgating and the weather elements as they affect a football game just as much as the next guy. That said, I would definitely prefer to have dry seats to sit in and root for my team, as would myriad families and professionals who are currently daunted by the weather. While a city stadium would definitely change the current tailgating scene a bit, I believe it could still be the class of the country, especially when you integrate the ability to incorporate other downtown venues in which to eat and drink before and after the game, as well as encourage weekend stays, with many hotel rooms within walking distance of the metro rail.
In conclusion, while pessimists will always find ways to poke holes in any idea, I firmly believe the addition of a domed stadium to be incorporated into all the activity that is currently enlivening our downtown would absolutely be the best plan. Where our stadium ends up will affect our region for likely the next 30-40 years, and is a decision of extreme importance. We’ve come a long way in redeveloping our downtown, and while we have a long way to go, a domed stadium/convention center is our region’s best way to continue the momentum and resurgence we are experiencing.