ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bills fans from all backgrounds offered their concerns and questions about the new Bills Stadium Thursday night during a public scoping meeting at the ADPRO Fieldhouse in Orchard Park.
Neighbors, nearby business owners, a county legislator and season ticket holders offered up a handful of ideas including sidewalks, more transportation methods, improved neighborhood security, and better water pressure on game day.
The meeting was a required step in the SEQR environmental review process being conducted by Erie County prior to construction. Members of the Department of Environment & Planning and a collection of consultants started the evening by addressing the SEQR process and the site plans released on July 1.
By far, the most popular request made by members of the public was that sidewalks be added around the new stadium, which will be on the opposite side of Abbott Road. One neighbor on Big Tree Road said he's been dealing with unwanted visitors and their "business" for years so he asked for better neighborhood security.
"I'm just kind of hoping in their kindness they can put some kind of security thing be it be a berm with some trees, fencing, something," he said.
The owner of Danny's South on Abbott Road shared how low water pressure impacts his restaurant operations on gameday and asked that it be looked into. His concern was seconded by the same neighbor who asked about security.
Hammer's Lot owner Eric Matwijow had a question specific to his property, which when the new stadium is built will include a new neighbor: an auxiliary building. A man from Kenmore also asked about what new transportation options will be available once the new stadium is built.
Most people who spoke during the meeting did not get answers. Erie County Department of Environment & Planning Commissioner Dan Castle said the meeting was more about collecting topics to focus on during their environmental review process, which Castle said will go on over the summer.
"Because we haven't done any of the analysis we're not in a position to answer questions yet, that will come in a public meeting probably in late September," Castle said.
While the meeting was focused on gathering public input, former Bills' linebacker turned architect Scott Radicec from the firm Populous, which is designing the new stadium, shared some new details about what his team is working towards.
Radicec explained how the new stadium is set to have a smaller overall footprint compared to Highmark Stadium, which will mean the future home of the Bills will be steeper and taller with multiple levels and concourses instead of one.
NEW: 730 feet long x 880 feet wide
CURRENT: 830 feet long x 930 feet wide
"Where the seats are right on top of the playing field that provide amazing sight lines for fans but also a loud intimidating bowl," Radicec said.
The orientation of the new stadium he said will also be shifted to be North/Northwest which is considered more ideal for football and the weather experience during Buffalo's football season.
Radicec added that while the new stadium will be smaller, it will have more useable space inside and out, including a new entry concourse just south of Abbott road and Southwestern Blvd.
"Your seats going to be a little bit deeper a little bit wider, it's going to be more comfortable... we're hoping to have a partial canopy to cover as many fans as we can," he added.
Neighbors who were not able to attend Thursday's public scoping meeting will get another chance on a TBD date in Fall 2022. The meeting however was recorded and has been posted on Erie County's YouTube page.
An online comment form can also be filled out at buffalobillsseqr.com and will remain open until July 28.