The Buffalo Bills suffered an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Round on Saturday, and now the franchise will take the offseason to look towards the future. They will be hoping to improve on their recent playoffs runs and pretty soon they will be playing in a new and improved stadium.
From Rich, to Ralph Wilson to Highmark and beyond
The Bills are an important part of the culture in Western New York, and Highmark Stadium has set the stage for lifelong memories of generations of the Bills Mafia. It wasn’t always called Highmark Stadium, the Bills opened the doors to what was then called Rich Stadium in 1973. Since then Buffalo fans have seen legends like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith etch their names in the history books of Rich Stadium and Bills history as Kelly led Buffalo four straight AFC Championships wins in the 90′s, three of those being played in Buffalo.
The Bills would fall out of the spotlight into near irrelevance in the league as their stadium changed names from Rich Stadium to Ralph Wilson Stadium from 1998-2015. After nearly two decades of dominance in the AFC East, the New England Patriots have moved aside and the Bills are now the reference point in the division. That hasn’t translated into a return to the Super Bowl, but Josh Allen and Sean McDermott have their side headed in the right direction.
They have a mission to bring the AFC Championship back to Buffalo and back to Highmark Stadium, but time is running out. There are just a few years left for what has been the home to the Bills for a half century. The plan is to start construction in the next year for the new home of the Bills.
Ground breaking right next door
The good news is they won’t have to travel very far. Plans for a new stadium are in the works and as it looks, the new stadium will be right across the street from Highmark Stadium.The new stadium will seat 62,000 and cost will upwards of $1.3 billion.
The Stadium will be designed by architectural firm Populous, who worked on Sahlen Field in Buffalo (home to the minor league baseball teams), and a dozen NFL stadiums around the country. The blue print for the stadium follows a similar lay out to that of Tottenham Stadium, which was built by Populous and opened up in 2019. Coincidentally the Bills are scheduled to play in Tottenham Stadium in the up coming season, so if they are looking to get a taste of what their new home will look like, they should jump over the pond next season to get a little sample.
Bills Mafia has never needed help making noise at Highmark, but the stacked seating at their new stadium will help retain noise, while easing some of the elements on cold winter days in Buffalo according to Bills Insider Chris Brown.
Deals still to be finalized
“The goal is to create the most vibrant, loudest, ground-shaking experience possible,” Brown said. “In recognition of the uniquely Western New York culture, throughout the stadium there will be dynamic areas designed to bring Bills fans together to share their love for local food, beverage and camaraderie.”
There was a meeting on Monday to finalize agreements and contracts between the state, the county and the Bills. Once everything is finalized all parties can start to focus on the ground breaking process.