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Pegulas prioritizing tailgating, fan experience with new stadium

Ownership dismisses rumors of a downtown stadium as “noise.”

When it comes to building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, it seems everyone has an opinion on the location of the Bills’ next home.

Some fans prefer Buffalo build a new stadium downtown, with the venue serving to attract more events to Buffalo beyond the eight or nine regular (and, hopefully a few playoff games) the Bills could host on an annual basis.

While other fans hope the Bills will keep their stadium in the current Orchard Park location, opting for an atmosphere that is tailgate-friendly and feels more like a college football game than your typical NFL game.

Initially, reports came out that the Bills were going to build their new stadium near the existing venue in Orchard Park, partly because a new downtown stadium would cost potentially twice as much as a venue in Orchard Park.

During the NFL’s owners’ meetings this week in New York City, the Pegulas tried to put to bed the notion that, in order to be successful, their new stadium needs to be built downtown.

Calling out the “noise” from proponents of a downtown facility, Pegula Sports and Entertainment executive vice president Ron Raccuia shot down those advocates of a downtown facility, according to a Tim Graham article published in The Athletic.

“We’ve spent years studying the various locations,” Raccuia said, “and we know unequivocally Orchard Park is the most feasible, the most efficient, the most cost-effective location. Downtown is a location, but it is not any of those things.

“Some of the noise that’s out there now from people that are uninformed is very unproductive to our discussions. Let the experts who are the national and international consultants we have hired and the state has hired, let them tell everyone what the data shows, and then reasonable people can make decisions.”

Raccuia goes on to say that the Pegulas prefer to build an open-air stadium in Orchard Park, and one of the biggest reasons (aside from the prohibitive cost of a downtown stadium) is preserving the Bills’ unique pre-game atmosphere and the time-honored traditions of tailgating in Western New York.

Moving the stadium downtown would mean saying goodbye to the vibrant fan experience Bills Mafia has come to know and love in Orchard Park, as fans would be forced to park in smaller lots located in different spots across downtown, as opposed to the vast parking lots currently available near the Orchard Park stadium.

“Tailgating is who we are as a fan base and as a community,” Raccuia said. “It’s just not possible downtown, and our fans overwhelmingly say they want tailgating.”

For fans who love their Bills football, and love the pre-game tailgate rituals, Raccuia’s words, spoken on behalf of Terry and Kim Pegula, has to be music to their ears.