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Bills research reveals ownership's preference for new, open-air, grass stadium in Orchard Park

But the alternative location in Buffalo scored better in a head-to-head analysis

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For the first time, the public can examine some of the research used by the Buffalo Bills organization in its quest to get a new stadium for the team.

Empire State Development posted four documents on its website this afternoon.

The research was handed over to Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration during the course of negotiations. The documents were released after the Bills granted permission to post them.

The Bills are eager to get a stadium deal done. Ron Raccuia, executive vice president of Pegula Sports & Entertainment said back in September, “We’ve been working on this since 2019. It’s just come to light now because we’ve pressed the urgent button.”

This week, Hochul has expressed a willingness to close a deal on a new stadium and has seemingly conceded the location to the Bills preference site, across the street from Highmark Stadium.

Hochul saying, “If their desire is Orchard Park, it's Orchard Park. We've never said otherwise.”

Two of the four released documents were produced in 2019. One of them titles New Stadium PDP Appendix notes various priorities the team and its owners, Kim and Terry Pegula, have for the new stadium.

They include bullet-points reading; “Generate more revenue”, “Sports betting should be considered”, along with “WiFi and DAS”.

Preferences to stadium type are also spelled out; “No roof. Outdoor football” and “Natural grass”. 

Credit: Pegula Sports & Entertainment
A concept picture of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo's Old First Ward. This image within document released today.

The team initially explored three possible stadium sites; Orchard Park, along South Park Avenue in the Old First Ward of Buffalo, and adjacent to the SUNY Buffalo North Campus.

But while the team has made it clear its preference is Orchard Park for a new stadium, it did not come out on top in a scored analysis.

Credit: Pegula Sports & Entertainment
Using a scoring system across eight different categories, the South Park site graded best in research commissioned by the Bills.

When the sites were graded for place making ability, transportation, parking, program accommodation, costs, schedule, intangibles, and revenue generation the final tally saw the South Park location come out on top with a score of 74.

The Orchard Park location scored a 66 while the SUNY Buffalo site was graded at 34.

Where the Orchard Park location came out on top in the grading was in cost and schedule. According to the Bills research, that location could be built in 68 months at a cost of $1.5-billion, while estimates for the South Park site have it taking 92 months to build there at a cost of nearly $2-billion. The South Park price does not include other necessary and often expensive infrastructure improvements like roadways.