Author: Lance Sabo | Part 5 of 6
Depending upon whom you ask, the ideal location of a new stadium will vary. But, I believe there is consensus when asking what geographical traits are desirable when deciding on a new stadium location: 1) central location near Canadian border 2) located near other attractions/activity centers 3) located near an expressway or thruway 4) located near a rail line to allow for expansion of rapid transit system; and finally, 5) located in place that would allow the tradition of tailgating to continue.
The location that best matches all those traits is a 182.43 acre piece of land next to the Buffalo Central Terminal. The acreage is large enough to accommodate a new stadium, convention center, hotel/train station, parking ramp and it would available space to provide ample surface parking.
Desirable Traits Checklist:
1) Central Location near Canada: the terminal location is 10 minutes away from Peace Bridge; 30 minutes from the Rainbow Bridge; 25 minutes from the Queenston-Lewston Bridge. (√)
2) Located near other Attractions/Activity Centers. It is 2.5 miles from Buffalo’s downtown attractions and accommodations such as, Canalside, The Harbor Center, Chippewa Entertainment District, The Sattler and The Lafayette Hotel. It is also 1.5 miles from Larkinville, 3.5 miles from Allentown and 6 miles from the Elmwood Village District. Also, it is only 12 a minute drive from the Airport. (√)
3) Located near an expressway or thruway: the central terminal is conveniently located between I-190 thruway and Rt. 33 Kensington expressway. (√)
4) Rail Access: the Central Terminal’s location and historical purpose naturally would lend itself to expansion of rail service to the site. Local commuters would be able to travel to the game or event along the proposed City of Buffalo’s Beltway Rail Line, and have the ability to transfer to the existing Metro Rail Line at two points. Regional commuters would be able to travel to the central terminal from New York, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester via the Amtrak Empire line. The Maple Leaf line, which is provided by VIA Rail Canada & Amtrak, would allow commuters from Toronto, Oakville, Grimsby, St. Catharine’s, Niagara Falls, Ontario & Niagara Falls, NY to travel directly to the terminal location. (√, √, & √)
5) The Central Terminal Location would have ample on-site parking, which would allow for areas to be designated for RV parking and tailgating for those who wish to carry on the game-day tradition. (√)
In addition to rail service to the Central Terminal, additional alternative transportation within the city would include metro bus and taxi services. These would not be reasonable options if the stadium were to remain at its current location or be relocated to another area outside of the city of Buffalo.
It is a given that the traffic logistics with any major event, Bills game or Sabres game will always result in some form of congestion. However, the Central Terminal site offers the best opportunity to alleviate congestion with its close proximity to the main streets of Fillmore, William, Bailey, and Broadway and to highways, I-190 & Rt. 33. Additionally, the variety of alternative methods I have proposed or cited (Amtrak, Beltway, Metro Bus & Taxi) would greatly reduce the amount of traffic and stress that drivers currently experience while traveling to and from games.
There are two main concerns with this site that need to be addressed. The first would be land acquisition, and second, would be how to accommodate the active CSX & Amtrak rail lines that carry traffic east/west and north/south. There are viable solutions for both matters.
The First would be land acquisition: According to Erie County Real Property Tax Service records, the 182.43 acres necessary for this project is currently owned by three parties; the city of Buffalo (17.52 acres), U.S. Federal Government (27.11), and CSX Railroad Corporation (137.81 acres). Please note: a) that all land and buildings currently owned/maintained by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Inc. would remain under its ownership & control, and b) that the Bills practice facilities and operations buildings were not included on site plan because only a small portion of the operation functions would be moved to the new site, while the majority of the team’s operations and activities would remain at their current location in Orchard Park, NY.
The first order of business would be to acquire the property that is currently occupied by the U.S. Postal Service – Processing and Distribution Center.
In 2012 local politicians rallied to save the center from closure and having its operations transferred to Rochester, by effectively illustrating that the inefficiencies of having local mail (i.e. originating & delivered to the Buffalo metropolitan area) shipped to Rochester, NY to be processed and then returned to Buffalo area would not result in the cost saving that the Postal Service had projected.
Because the Federal parcel of land is key to the development of the central terminal site, a workable solution for all parties involved would be the consolidation of both the Buffalo and Rochester Facilities to a new facility in Batavia, NY; where they can effectively serve both the Buffalo & Rochester metropolitan areas.
The second order of business would be to acquire the use of the “air rights” of the land owned by CSX, while allowing them to maintain the use their active railways (3 traveling east/west, 2 traveling north/south & west, and 1 traveling north/south & east). Note: In this proposal Amtrak would be the primary operator and provider of service for the Beltway Line; which would reduce initial startup costs. In the future the NFTA could acquire “trackage rights” and bid for service operation as funding becomes available.
In order for the stadium to be constructed, CSX and Amtrak would have to be assured that ALL train service would be uninterrupted during construction and that any temporary diversion routes would have a minimal impact on their schedules.
A workable solution would involve a three phase construction schedule and the use of “the cut & cover” method of construction. Both CSX & Amtrak trains would experience only minor diversions during for the first two phases of construction. While the third phase would see both the CSX and Amtrak to lines return to full operational status without the need for additional diversions during the remaining construction. The primary focus during the third phase would be the construction of the new beltway terminal rail station.
The Beltway rail line would be the integral part of this project. Granted, its inclusion would add to the overall cost of the project, but the benefits of having our light rail passenger system that would connect almost every area within the city would be far greater than a simple extension of the Main Street line that has been proposed for other stadium sites.
Although, this project my seem like a daunting construction project for our area, in reality the size of this project pales in comparison to that of the “Hudson Yards” project that is currently underway in New York City. The NYC project fully demonstrates that you can work around active railroad lines and build something substantial above them without disrupting service.
Clearly, the Central Terminal site offers the best opportunity to upgrade the city of Buffalo’s light rail transit system and to improve regional rail service for New York and Southern Ontario commuters. Its location would also increase the number of options that patrons have as a means of travel to and from events. And, lastly it would provide all patrons greater accessibility to accommodations and other local attractions by either light rail transit or a short drive (private or commercial).
Possible additional Funding sources: U.S. Department of Transportation & New York State Department of Transportation.
Special thanks to Scott A. Wood of Scott Alexander Wood Design Inc. for providing the artist renderings and site plans for this series. Please Note: That these renderings contain generic representations of the buildings and concepts mentioned in this proposal, and that their only intention is to illustrate scale and spatial relations.
Also see New Stadium Prospectus – Design: “LEED” Rather Than Follow | Part 4 of 6
Lance Sabo is currently a master’s student at Buffalo State College and will complete his master’s degree in economics and finance in the fall of 2014. Serves in the Air Force Reserves at the Niagara Falls Airbase and has been a Federal Civil Servant for 20 years. Contact Lance Sabo | twitter Lance_Sabo