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Studies on New Era Field, KeyBank Center halfway done, PSE exec says

Studies on New Era Field, KeyBank Center halfway done, PSE exec says

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New Era Field Bills stadium

New Era Field. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo)

A Pegula Sports & Entertainment executive told a group of Buffalo expats gathered in the city on Thursday that the company's studies on New Era Field and KeyBank Center are about halfway done.

Ron Raccuia, PSE executive vice president of licensing  and branded merchandise, said the review of both facilities has been wide-ranging, according to a Business First account of the panel discussion. Raccuia, who struck a familiar tone from PSE since the studies have begun, was speaking at the Buffalo Homecoming event Thursday morning at RiverWorks.

“We’ve gone into this without any preconceived notions. We haven’t eliminated one single thing. We haven’t targeted one single thing,” Raccuia said, according to Business First, which is one of the sponsors at the event. “Fortunately or unfortunately, they’re both coming up for discussion at the same time.”

Raccuia struck a similar tone to what Pegula Sports & Entertainment executives have said since they announced in November that they would hire consultants to conduct the studies.

CAA ICON is the consulting firm that was hired by PSE in November to explore the possibility of either building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills or extensively renovating New Era Field. The Denver-based consulting firm also is expected to look into possible renovations at KeyBank Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits.

The Bills stadium lease agreement expires in 2023. The lease for KeyBank Center expires in 2025.

PSE said upon the hiring of CAA ICON that both venues were in need of renovation, and that outside expertise was necessary to begin the evaluation.

“We have expiring leases and we have, candidly, venues that need upgrading,” Bruce Popko, then PSE's chief operating officer, said at a November news conference announcing the studies. Popko left PSE in a management shake-up in February.

The studies have included fan surveys and ensuing focus groups.

“This is a privately funded study. The purpose of the study is to help guide our future decisions regarding both New Era Field and KeyBank Center,” said Don Heins, a PSE spokesman. “There is no timeline to disclose anything publicly.”

Raccuia said that work on the studies should wrap up late this year, according to Business First.

“This could be one of the largest investments ever in Western New York,” Raccuia said during the event Thursday. “I think we’ll come to some good conclusions. We’re leaving no stone unturned.”

Everything on the table as Pegulas weigh Bills, Sabres stadium options

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