Despite talk about stadiums from around the league and around the city, nothing is fazing Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula. In their much-discussed interview with Tim Graham of The Buffalo News earlier this month, the subject of the team’s stadium situation was broached.
Mr. Pegula, noting that the lease on the newly-renamed New Era Field runs through 2023, said that they “haven’t given it much thought.” Mrs. Pegula followed up by saying, “I don't think we have enough information to go down that road and answer that question. But I know it's something we do have to start thinking about for the future, but we haven't started that process yet.”
Much is changing in stadiums around the NFL this offseason. The Atlanta Falcons are hosting the Green Bay Packers today in what will be the final game at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons’ home since the 1992 season. The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles after a ballot measure failed to secure public funding for a new stadium in San Diego. Stadium issues are also behind the proposed relocation of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. Both teams also are facing some issues around the stadiums in their new homes, as well.
New Era Field (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium, originally Rich Stadium) has been open since 1973. Only five teams played in older stadiums during the 2016 season; the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers play in historic stadiums that have seen major renovation projects over the years, the Los Angeles Rams are in a short-term home while their new stadium is under construction, and the other two are the Chargers and Raiders who cited their stadiums when filing for relocation.
The Bills have given their home several face lifts over the years, including a $130 million project in 2014. That same year, the team announced a “working group” devoted to exploring the logistics around a new stadium for the Bills. The group met once, in April 2014, but has yet to meet again since the Pegulas purchased the team from Ralph Wilson’s estate in September of that year. The working group was seen as more of a way to get information to the new owner about staying local than providing anything finite.
Even though stadiums are front and center in the NFL right now, and the Bills are eventually going to need a new one, it’s pretty clear that nobody is terribly worried about the situation. New Era Field in Orchard Park is going to remain the Bills’ home for the foreseeable future.