Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Stadium (Bills Stadium)
|Country||United States of America|
|Other names||Rich Stadium (1973–1997), Ralph Wilson Stadium, (1998–2015), New Era Field (2016–2019), Bills Stadium (2020)|
|Construction||04/04/1972 – 1973|
|Renovations||1984, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2007, 2013|
|Cost||$ 22 million|
|Address||1 Bills Dr., Orchard Park, NY 14127-2237|
Highmark Stadium – stadium description
When Buffalo Bills joined the NFL in 1970, it became evident that the team needed a bigger venue than War Memorial Stadium they played at from 1960 to 1972. NFL officials required a minimum of 50,000 seats and the club's existing facility only housed 47,000.
Ralph Wilson, the Bills's owner at the time, reached an agreement to erect a new stadium in Orchard Park, a town south of Buffalo. Construction began on April 4, 1972 and was completed in record time, as the official opening took place on August 17, 1973.
Initially, the facility could accommodate just over 80,000 spectators on three levels of the stands. The largest one was the bottom ring that stretched uninterruptedly around the artificial pitch. The second tier was similar, but it was much smaller than the bottom bowl of the stadium. The third level of the auditorium consisted of two rectangular superstructures along the playing field.
Structural composition of the arena, which is still unroofed, has not changed much since it opened. The pitch is 15 metres below the ground level and the last tier of the stands towers 18 metres above the ground.
In the mid-1990s, the venue could still admit 80,000 fans. From that moment on, a gradual reduction in capacity began. In 1998, the auditorium dropped to 74,000 as a result of the installation of new, larger seats. Over the following years, the capacity has decreased to just over 71,000.
The stadium has undergone a series of modernization works aimed at expanding the number of premium seats. The vast majority of them are located between the first and second, as well as the second and third tiers of the stands. In 1984, 16 executive suites were created and in 1992 a further 24 were added.
In 1994, an additional 500 premium seats and a massive scoreboard were installed. The latter was replaced after 13 years with an even more modern one. In 2007, electronic ribbon-shaped boards were created in the interior. The last revamp took place in 2013, when the infrastructure around the arena (new entrance gates) and the sponsors' exposure (new electronic boards) were enhanced.
Among important events that took place at Bills Stadium, the 2008 NHL Winter Classic, should be mentioned. It was the game between Buffalo Sabers and Pittsburgh Penguins with over 71,000 supporters attending the stadium (NHL record at the time). In addition, the opening ceremony of the 1993 Summer Universiade was held at the arena.
USA: Highmark Stadium with new Premium Club Lounge
With the legalisation of sports gambling in many states since the repeal of PASPA in 2018, more and more stadiums are starting to follow the UK example of having kiosks on the concourse. Highmark Stadium in Buffalo has joined State Farm Stadium in Arizona with its own lounge dedicated to sports betting.
USA: Bills to wait longer for stadium decision
September 1, 2022 marked the deadline for finalizing the deal for a new Buffalo Bills stadium. However, Erie County, the State of New York and the club itself have recently postponed it by 45 days. Will the franchise move out of Highmark Stadium after 50 years?
USA: It is official, a new stadium will stand in Buffalo
First of all: the Bills will stay in Buffalo. Secondly: the club will move to a new venue. The team owners, NFL as well as state and local authorities have agreed to build a $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park.
Buffalo: Bills’ new stadium on the horizon?
It appears that a modern arena will be built in Buffalo in the near future. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul expects the deal for the NFL team’s new venue is to be finalized soon.
Buffalo: New stadium still long way off
Details of the new venue for the Buffalo Bills are not yet known. It has only been revealed that owners are not considering reconstruction of the current stadium as it is financially unjustified.
COVID-19 crisis: Growing uncertainty over NFL season
With just 2 months to go, reopening of the economy is being reversed as COVID-19 infections are through the roof in some states. Instead of rumours about full stadia it again seems more likely that NFL will be played behind closed doors.
Buffalo: What the future holds for Buffalo Bills?
A brand new stadium or a redevelopment of the current one. Or, perhaps, a third option? The outcome isn't certain but efforts to deliver a final decision are well underway as the NFL team consults specialists and supporters.
Buffalo: Fan falls onto another one, gets banned and may be prosecuted
Hundreds of people in Buffalo held their breath for a moment on Sunday as they witnessed one man fall 10 meters down onto the head of another one. Both suffered no serious injuries. Now the one falling is banned from Ralph Wilson Stadium and may face charges.
USA: Players and coaches with microphones?
In an attempt to bring more fans to NFL games, the league authorities are planning to plant microphones onto players and coaches, allowing everyone to hear what they say. According to Sports Business Journal, it’s a matter of a couple upcoming seasons.
USA: What’s better for matchday experience than a camera in the changing rooms?
American Football league NFL continues its efforts to compete with TV broadcasting. In another attempt to get fans off their couches and into the stands, the league has just mandated… changing room cameras.
USA: Bar-type standing terraces growing in the NFL?
An executive of the NFL predicts that future stadiums may be less about watching the game and more about a bar-type atmosphere of special decks with standing room. LA Times and NBC report.