Ralph Wilson Stadium

Ralph Wilson Stadium

stadium_name = Ralph Wilson Stadium
nickname = "The Ralph"

location = 1 Bills Drive
Orchard Park, New York 14127
broke_ground =
opened = 1973
closed =
demolished =
owner = Erie County, New York
operator = Erie County, New York
surface = AstroPlay
construction_cost = $22 million USD
architect = HNTB
former_names = Rich Stadium (1973-1998)
tenants = Buffalo Bills (NFL) (1973-Present)
seating_capacity = 80,020 (original); 73,967 (current)

Ralph Wilson Stadium is a football stadium located in the town of Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. It is the home stadium for the Buffalo Bills National Football League football team. It was originally named Rich Stadium.


What is now known as Ralph Wilson Stadium was commissioned as a result of the AFL-NFL merger. While suitable for a second-tier league such as the American Football League, Buffalo War Memorial Stadium was both in disrepair and grossly undersized for a National Football League team, with a capacity of under 47,000.

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.fact|date=December 2007 In 1972, Rich Products signed a 25-year, $1.5 million deal, 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 Wilson, after Rich balked at paying a greatly increased rights fee, which would have brought the price up to par with other NFL stadiums.

The first playoff game at the stadium was a 17–10 Bills victory over the Houston Oilers on January 1, 1989. The Bills won every ensuing playoff game at the stadium until they were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 28, 1996.

Other events

On January 1, 2008, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic. [ [http://www.nhl.com/winterclassic/index.html 2008 Winter Classic] ] The Penguins won 2–1 in a shootout.

It has also hosted, three times, the Drum Corps International championships and annually hosts the region's Section VI high school football playoffs. Occasional large-scale concerts are held at the stadium, although these are increasingly rare.


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 were installed. Total cost for the project was $5.2 million. The new scoreboard replaced the old 41.5' by 31.5' Sony JumboTron installed 13 years earlier for $8 million (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.

Photo gallery


External links

* [http://www.buffalobills.com/facility/ Stadium page from official Buffalo Bills site]
* [http://www.thestandard.com/article/0,1902,21704,00.html The Standard]
* [http://www.billsdaily.com BillsDaily]

succession box
title = Home of the
Buffalo Bills
years = 1973 – 2008
before = War Memorial Stadium
after = shared with Rogers Centre
succession box
title = Host of the
Drum Corps International
World Championship
years = 1990
before =
Arrowhead Stadium
Foxboro Stadium
Byrd Stadium
after =
Cotton Bowl Stadium
Citrus Bowl
Camp Randall Stadium

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