The Buffalo Bills unveiled a new youth football field in the shadow of Ralph Wilson Stadium on Friday.
The facility, located a few hundred yards from the tunnel entrance to the stadium, is the first of its kind in the NFL and will be used exclusively for youth football teams in Western New York.
The perfectly manicured and lined grass field is crowned for good drainage and includes a scoreboard in one end zone, bleachers and other amenities.
The field is part of a league-wide initiative to promote youth football across the United States.
"It's one small way our organization can give something back to youth in Western New York and to encourage them to get involved in a great game -- football," said Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe.
The field will be used by teams in the Western New York Youth Tackle Football Federation, which consists of about 300 youth teams from across Western New York and into Pennsylvania. Ages of the players generally range from 7 to 15. Four championship games in the Oatka Southern Tier Junior league will be held at the facility today.
The NFL and its teams have targeted $150 million toward the development of youth football in the United States.
"It's a combined effort of the NFL and the NFL Players Association," said Cedric Jones, NFL senior director of youth football. "The commissioner challenged owners to develop youth football facilities at their individual stadium or team headquarters, and the Bills are the first team to do it. New England, Green Bay and Miami have fields that are in the works.
"The money goes to the construction of fields, coaching education, grants for football camps and grants to youth football leagues around the country. The grants have funded the construction of more than 100 fields in 40 cities since 1998."
"The twin pillars of the NFL are football and community," said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in a statement. "No team better exemplifies those traditions than the Buffalo Bills. Ralph Wilson and the Bills organization deserve tremendous credit for taking this commitment to the next level with the creation of their new youth football field."
Throughout the year, the Bills will use the facility for youth football-related events such as NFL High School and Junior Player Development programs, NFL Flag games and Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick competitions.
The Bills held an 8 p.m. practice Friday in order to get themselves on a nighttime schedule in preparation for Sunday's game at New England, which starts at 8:30 p.m. Right tackle Mike Williams (sore neck) was able to practice for a second straight day. He's recovering from a sprained neck suffered Sunday.
The Patriots placed starting outside linebacker Mike Vrabel on the injury report with a lower leg problem. He did not practice and is questionable.