Shiny new NFL stadiums in peer cities
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 8:43 pm, October 29, 2013
It’s been almost a year now since the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex unveiled their vision for a new stadium which would be largely privately financed and be situated smack dab on the lake’s edge in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
Since that time, Erie County, the State and the Buffalo Bills partnered up and got a new lease done, which will assure that the team stays here for at least 7 and up to 10 years. Ralph Wilson Stadium will be seeing all sorts of upgrades during the coming offseason, which fans will get to experience come 2014. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it also buys this community time in term of coming up with a long term plan to keep the Buffalo Bills here in perpetuity.
Nicholas Strascick and George Hasiotis, the principals behind the GBSEC, deserve every bit of gratitude and plaudits from the stakeholders and citizens of this area for moving this debate forward. They invested substantial sums to retain a world class architect (HKS Sports) and come up with a preliminary design. They have lobbied mightily at all levels of government to try and secure a time sensitive land option on the Outer Harbor property. And if the vision and the proposed site as depicted eventually falls by the wayside, the people in this community can do the proper due diligence to find the appropriate alternative.
In three other NFL markets, either construction and/or plans are proceeding nicely for new stadiums which will further raise the bar on architecture and design, fan amenities, technology and functionality. Here is the rundown:
Construction is proceeding at a brisk pace on Levi’s Stadium, the new home for the San Francisco 49ers, to replace the aging and generally horrible Candlestick Park, one of oldest and most decrepit stadiums in the league. Set to open in 2014, this building is situated 38.3 miles from San Francisco and actually closer to San Jose, giving this franchise a true regional footprint. It will be the home venue for Super Bowl L (that’s “50”) in 2016.
Ground is being broken for a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, with the opening set in time for the 2016 NFL season. So where will this facility be located? Right where their current stadium, Mall of America Field (nee Metrodome), is now. In fact, some site work will get underway shortly, and as soon as the current season is concluded, the current stadium will be demolished, and the Vikings will spend two seasons playing at TCF Bank Field on the University of Minnesota campus while their new playpen goes up.
Just this past week the Atlanta Falcons unveiled new renderings and design concepts for a new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta.
The Falcons also plan to build their new facility on the footprint of the current Georgia Dome, which would be razed to make room for the new stadium. They plan to raise the bar with electronics and LED technology to dazzle the senses, including a massive “halo” 360 degree video board crowning the circular retractable roof opening, as well as a football field length HD board running along the main concourses. If all goes to plan, their new stadium will open in time for the 2017 NFL season.
For sake of time comparisons here, both Mall of America Field opened in 1982 and the Georgia Dome opened in 1993, while Buffalo rolled out what was then named Rich Stadium in 1973. When San Francisco opens their new field next season, that will leave Buffalo and Oakland as having the two oldest stadiums in the National Football League.
Let the community debate continue.