Western New York has been given a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a facility important to a regional sports team, as well as an integral infrastructure element that will improve our resiliency, hasten the renovation of a historic site and be a shot in the arm for a section of the city with a storied past and a bright future.
A new stadium should indeed be built with public funds, adjacent to the Central Terminal and developed into a community asset used year-round. Whether a Bills fan or an engaged citizen, all can agree that the football franchise is as Buffalo as chicken wings, lake effect snow and the architectural icon we know as the Central Terminal.
Where we need not differ is on the importance for a modern structure that can used by the Bills during football season, and by the entire community in every season. Aligning with county/state climate action planning and One Region Forward development plans, designing this multi-modal facility so that it can be used for sports, entertainment and conventions while also meeting critical infrastructure needs, makes the best use of our hard-earned tax dollars.
Building a stadium that incorporates the Central Terminal location, with its existing rail easement to the Buffalo Niagara Airport to the east and downtown to the west, allows for a more sustainable transportation option for game day, as well as connecting downtown through Larkinville, into Polonia Buffalo, by the Galleria and out to the airport. The value of bringing the Central Terminal back to past glory in the process can’t be overlooked. Think of a future where the teams and fans can fly into the airport and ride a light rail train painted in Bills colors as it stampedes toward the stadium. And when the game’s over happy fans can head into the city for more revelry or out to their hotel rooms; without the drinking and driving concerns.
Buffalo also must keep an eye to the skies. Although for the most part our weather stays outside, this opportunity allows us a chance to be prepared to care for our own when we have that 1,000-year flood, or debilitating heat, or are being choked out by the smoke from a distant fire. Having a facility that can house thousands during an emergency, that is easily accessible for rail transportation to bring critical supplies of food, emergency personnel or (heaven-forbid) large amounts of medical equipment, is game changing when there is a crisis. We have been blessed to not have occasion to need such a safe haven recently, but the future is uncertain.
Lastly, placement of an economic engine such as this on the East side would provide a willing workforce with employment opportunities in neighborhoods that need a boost and have waited a long time for the rebirth much of the rest of the city has enjoyed.
Let’s not pass up this opportunity for multiple wins.
Mark Casell of Alden in an accredited professional in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. He is involved with the One Region Forward plan development.