The history of the Buffalo Bills spans several decades and began with the AFL in 1960. That 1960 season began in a small stadium, seating only 36,500. War Memorial Stadium was located in Buffalo and was originally built in 1936 and affectionately referred to as, The Rock Pile.
War Memorial would later be renovated with an upper deck, adding more than 9,700 seats in 1965. The Buffalo Bills would call The Rock Pile their home until August 1973, when Rich Stadium construction was completed. Rich Stadium would later become Ralph Wilson Stadium and underwent multiple changes and upgrades. Naming rights would become New Era Field in 2016, then in 2020 was simply called Bills Stadium for a short while, and finally, the current name, Highmark.
Since the Pegulas purchased the Buffalo Bills, several more upgrades and renovations were done; however, it was time the Buffalo Bills get a new, state-of-art stadium and that became the ultimate goal. After many negotiations and red tape, plans are finally coming together, and we are beginning to see pictures of what it may look like.
There was a lot of debate among Bills Mafia about whether there should be a dome, retractable roof, or open. I’ve always been one to be more for the open air. I just believe the game should be played outdoors in the elements; however, with the way the Bills roster is constructed and the three passes performance from Mac Jones, resulting in a loss, I was open to reconsidering my stance on a dome versus open air.
We’ve seen several images of what the Bills’ new home might look like, which do not include a dome but seems to have some “shelter” from the elements for the fans, at least in the upper portions of the facility. Until this thing is finalized, and construction begins, we won’t know for certain.
New Stadium Cost
One thing that is for certain, the price tag won’t come cheap, and a large portion of the funds will be coming from the local taxpayers. The total bill is reported to be $1.4 billion, of which $850 million is projected to come from state and local funds. I don’t live in the area but on a smaller scale, my local area wanted to build a new stadium for our Single-A baseball team, which was met with resistance, and here we are more than a decade later, and still has not been built and has changed MLB affiliations as a result.
The new stadium is expected to be a multi-use facility too, which will help to recoup the local funds and then some, so in the long run, this should be a huge plus for the local area. Not to mention the additional jobs that will become available.
The concern with not getting a deal done for the Buffalo Bills is some big city coming along with a shiny new facility and sweeping our Bills owners off their feet and away the Bills go to a new city. No one wants that, so at the end of the day, whatever, the cost ends up being for local taxpayers, it’s essentially the cost to keep the Bills in Buffalo, well Orchard Park.
We also know the stadium will be built across the street from the existing Highmark Stadium, though some were hoping back in downtown Buffalo, or at least closer. Highmark will eventually be taken down and replaced with additional parking but this won’t happen until after the new stadium is open. Taking down Highmark is bittersweet though, as we’ve witnessed some incredible teams on that field.
The new stadium is expected to open for the 2026 season but there is still a way to go before ground can be officially broken, so until then, we will enjoy our Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium, not that there is anything wrong with maybe, just maybe, our Buffalo Bills can send Highmark off into the sunset with a Lombardi or two.
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