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Idea of new Bills stadium does not make Old First Ward residents shout with joy

Although it's not the preferred new stadium location by the Bills organization, the Hochul Administration still wants to take a look.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Like so many in Western New York, Ron Rocklin loves the Buffalo Bills. What he does not love is the idea of living next to a new stadium for the team.

“There isn’t a person in this neighborhood that would be open to that,” Rocklin said.

Rocklin’s neighborhood is the Buffalo’s Old First Ward. It is one of two known sites state government is examining as a possible location for a new stadium for the Bills.

The Bills organization has already announced its preferred spot; in Orchard Park across the street from the current home, Highmark Stadium. Estimated cost, $1.4 billion.

But the study that guided Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula to make their decision has not been fully shared with the administration of Gov. Kathy Hochul, so Governor Hochul directed her administration to do its own study. Consulting firm AECOM was brought in and specifically told to look at the Orchard Park site and the location in the Old First Ward.

The Bills organization has stated that building a new stadium downtown would add at least $1 billion to the price tag. But for now, the Old First Ward site remains in play.

If the Bills move into the neighborhood, Peg Overdorf would be about two blocks away. She is a lifelong resident of the Old First Ward and executive director of the Valley Community Association.

“Is it coming or not? Nobody knows. It’s the secret of the year,” Overdorf said, later adding, “I see nothing wrong with keeping it in Orchard Park. It’s there. They can tailgate all they want.”

2 On Your Side asked whether she could envision the Old First Ward stadium becoming the Bills’ new home.

Overdorf responded, “I can. I can. Lots of stuff has happened that I couldn’t envision, so yes, anything can happen.”  

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