Legislators tour Ralph Wilson Stadium, get look at planned renovations
Erie County legislators went on a tour Thursday to get a look at the $130 million in upgrades planned for Ralph Wilson Stadium. The changes are part of a 10-year lease agreement announced last month to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York that needs the legislature's approval. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us more about the renovations and what legislators think of the plans.
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- From a friendlier stadium entrance to improved restrooms and concessions, the renovations planned for Ralph Wilson Stadium focus on the fans.
"When people come in, they're not standing for 45 minutes at a gate and missing half of the first quarter. We have more gates, wider gates, then when they come in there's more concourse room for them," said Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.
"When they come to a game, and look at how much they invest into a game day event, they want to have a wonderful experience and I think all of this will help lead to that," said Lynn Marinelli, an Erie County legislator.
The $130 million in improvements are part of the 10-year lease agreement reached by the Bills, the state and the county executive in December.
It includes a $41 million contribution from Erie County and Thursday, members of the Erie County Legislature got a look at what that money will do.
"I think it comes down to a situation where we have to justify the expenditure of that money on behalf of the taxpayers and I think the Bills can do it," said Kevin Hardwick, another legislator.
The renovations also call for a major expansion of the Bills store.
"That produces 8.75 percent of sales tax revenue which will help pay for the infrastructure renovations that we're doing here," said John Mills, legislator.
The tour was lead by former Buffalo Bill turned architect Scott Radecic. His firm, Populous, is heading up the project.
"Nice to come back and be able to make an impact not only to the organization by designing the improvements at the stadium, but also to every fan who comes to the stadium," said Radecic.
Poloncarz says he thinks the legislature will pass the agreement it next week.
"I'm hopeful it will be unanimous, cause it will send a very good message to the people not only of this community, but of the NFL, that Erie County stands 100 percent behind this plan," said Poloncarz.
And the legislature isn't the last stop.
"We have to go through the NFL, meet with the owners here very shortly and also have it ratified at that level," said Russ Brandon, president and CEO of the Buffalo Bills.