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Concert Venues :: Rich Stadium


Now Known As Ralph Wilson Stadium
Date Opened Aug. 17, 1973
Venue Capacity 80,024
Venue URL
Venue Address 1 Bills Drive Orchard Park, NY 14127

Venue Information

The stadium opened in 1973. The construction of the stadium and its location were the source of years of litigation, which ended with a financial settlement for a developer who had planned to erect an all-weather stadium in Lancaster, New York. However plans changed because it was not wanted near Lancaster High School. In 1972, Rich Products signed a 25-year deal for $1 million per year, by which the venue would be called "Rich Stadium"; this is one of the earliest examples of the sale of naming rights in North American sports. After the original deal expired in 1998, the stadium was renamed in honor of Bills founder and owner Ralph C. Wilson.

The stadium is open-air, with a capacity of 73,967. The field is made of AstroTurf GameDay Grass, which replaced the AstroTurf that was original to the stadium. The stadium originally had a capacity of 80,020, however the capacity was reduced in 1998 as a part of the Bills lease renewal with Erie County, New York. The stadium at that time was refitted with larger seats and more luxury and club seating. The lease agreement also stipulated that Erie County would continue to upgrade the stadium; in summer 2007 a new High Definition Mitsubishi LED board measuring 88.8' by 32.5' and ribbon boards was installed. Total cost for the project was 5.2 million dollars. The new scoreboard replaced the old 41.5' by 31.5' Sony JumboTron installed 13 years earlier for 8.0 million dollars (including inflation).

Buffalo is one of the nation's windiest cities, and as a result, Ralph Wilson Stadium often is a difficult stadium for kickers to play in, with swirling winds that change direction rapidly. This is exacerbated by the design of the stadium. The main bowl of the stadium is fifty feet under ground level, while the upper deck stands above ground. The open end lies parallel to the direction of the prevailing winds, so that when the winds come in, they immediately drop down into the bowl, causing the stadium's signature wind patterns.

Venue Photos

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