Three downtown sites are being looked at as the location for a new football stadium by the State. Also on the table is a renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium or a new facility nearby. The downtown sites include the surface parking lots in the Cobblestone District east of Mississippi Street that would require a domed facility, a site along South Park and Ohio streets, and a location at Seneca and Michigan where the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum is.
The Buffalo News has the scoop including the type and preliminary costs of a new stadium:
Because of natural lighting issues, though, only a domed stadium would likely meet NFL requirements at the Cobblestone site, whereas either a dome or an open-air stadium would work at the other two city sites, said a source who was involved in compiling the study.
The study estimates the cost of the Cobblestone domed stadium to be $787.6 million.
A similar stadium at the Exchange Street site would cost $784.6 million, while a domed facility at South Park would cost $911.9 million, due in large part to the higher site development costs there. Building an open-air stadium at either Exchange Street or South Park would reduce those costs by $188.6 million.
Meanwhile, renovating Ralph Wilson Stadium to modern NFL standards would cost $554.9 million, thanks largely to the fact that much of the seating bowl would probably have to be replaced.
Based upon recent comments from Delaware North and Sabres’ officials, the Cobblestone location or Exchange Street appear to be the early favorite where they mention an area “between First Niagara Center and Coca Cola Field.” The Buffalo News is endorsing a downtown location in today’s paper.
Site locations from The Buffalo News. D = Potential Development, P = Potential Parking/Development
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“The Cobblestone District’s adjacencies with the First Niagara Center Arena, HarborCenter and Coca-Cola Field create the potential for a new stadium to develop an iconic sports district and further the development and renewal of downtown Buffalo,” the study said.
“This connection to other retail and mixed use development make the Cobblestone District site a good candidate for construction of a domed, multi-purpose stadium” that would attract far more non-football events than any open-air stadium, the study added.
At the same time, though, the consultants acknowledged that a Cobblestone District stadium, sandwiched between Mississippi Street and Michigan Avenue, also would pose some challenges.
“The constricted site area will result in a stadium placement outside the optimal stadium orientation, meaning the site will only accommodate a fixed roof facility due to weather considerations,” they wrote.
The site would … place a stadium between the Cobblestone District and other development projects,” they wrote. “With the appropriately scaled mixed-use development surrounding the potential stadium, both areas would likely realize an increase in activity and value.”
At the same time, though, they said the South Park site poses plenty of potential concerns. It’s at least a quarter-mile farther from Buffalo’s downtown parking lots. It’s next to a residential neighborhood, and the stadium would be located on what is now Conway Park, which could be relocated.
And perhaps most importantly, the South Park site is by far the most expensive of the shortlisted sites, thanks to the more extensive roadwork that would be required there to handle football traffic.
“The Exchange Street site, bounded by Swan Street to the north, Chicago Street to the east, Exchange Street to the south and Michigan Avenue to the west, is the most accessible, in terms of ingress and egress, of any of the proposed urban sites and also best access to existing parking inventories,” the study said.
In addition, its location near Coca-Cola Field and downtown means a multipurpose dome would work there, although the site also meets NFL standards for an open-air stadium.
“Its location at the edge of the downtown Buffalo core offers spin-off development potential without the costly demolition of major buildings,” the study said.
Yet the Exchange Street site also could raise concerns for nearby residents, the study said.
The Exchange Street site would require that Seneca Street be closed between Michigan Avenue and Chicago Street, thereby cutting off the direct route from downtown to the burgeoning Larkinville area as well as the iconic Chef’s Restaurant.
Sites on the outer harbor, in Niagara Falls, at the former Seneca Mall, and Central Terminal were looked at but not recommended primarily due to access issues.