New Era Field, originally Rich Stadium and known as Ralph Wilson Stadium from 1998 to 2015, is a stadium in Orchard Park, New York, a suburb south of Buffalo. Opened in 1973, it is the home of the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). New Era Cap Company holds the stadium's naming rights.
|New Era Field|
New Era Field in 2014
New Era Field
Location within the United States
|Former names||Rich Stadium (1973–1997)|
Ralph Wilson Stadium (1998–2015)
|Address||1 Bills Drive|
|Location||Orchard Park, New York|
|Operator||Pegula Sports and Entertainment|
|Surface||A-Turf Titan 50 (2011–present)|
|Broke ground||April 4, 1972|
|Opened||August 17, 1973|
|Construction cost||US$22 million (1973)|
($124 million in 2018 dollars)
|Structural engineer||David M. Berg|
& Associates Inc.
|General contractor||Frank Schoenle|
|Buffalo Bills (NFL) (1973–present)|
An original franchise of the American Football League in 1960, the Buffalo Bills played their first thirteen seasons at War Memorial Stadium, a multi-use WPA project stadium that opened in 1938, located on Buffalo's East Side. While suitable for AFL play in the 1960s, the "Rockpile" (as the stadium came to be nicknamed), was in disrepair and with a capacity of under 47,000, undersized for a National Football League team. The league mandate instituted after the AFL–NFL merger of 1970 dictated a minimum of 50,000 seats.
In early 1971, owner Ralph Wilson was exploring options to relocate the team, possibly to Seattle, with other cities such as Memphis and Tampa soon expressing interest as well. The potential loss of the team hastened the stadium project and Rich Stadium opened in 1973. The location and construction of the stadium in Erie County were the source of years of litigation, which ended with a financial settlement for a developer who had planned to erect a domed stadium in Lancaster. However, plans changed because it was not wanted to be close to Lancaster High School. The stadium was ultimately built by Frank Schoenle and his construction company. Bonds were approved by the county legislature in September 1971.
Rich Products, a Buffalo-based food products company, signed a 25-year, $1.5 million deal ($60,000 per year), by which the venue would be called "Rich Stadium"; one of the earliest examples of the sale of naming rights in North American sports. (The name was somewhat of a compromise, after Bills owner and founder Ralph Wilson rejected the name Rich wanted to use, "Coffee Rich Park.") By a vote of 16–4, the county legislature approved the name in November 1972, despite a matching offer from Wilson to name it "Buffalo Bills Stadium."
When the Bills organization regularly referred to the stadium without the "Rich" name, Rich Products brought a $7.5 million lawsuit against the team in 1976. After the original deal expired after a quarter century in 1998, the stadium was renamed in honor of Wilson. Rich Products balked at paying a greatly increased rights fee, which would have brought the price up to par with other NFL stadiums.
On August 13, 2016, Buffalo-based New Era Cap Company and the Bills reached a seven-year, $35 million agreement for stadium naming rights. The Bills and New Era officially announced the stadium's new name of New Era Field five days later, on August 18, 2016.
The first NFL playoff game at the stadium came in the 1988 season, 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 in 1996 by the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 28.
From New Era Field's opening until the end of the 2018 NFL season, the Bills have defeated each of the 31 other teams there at least once and are unbeaten there against the following teams: Arizona Cardinals (4-0), Baltimore Ravens (2-0), Green Bay Packers (6-0), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0).
The stadium is open-air, with a capacity of 71,870. It has never had a natural grass surface; AstroTurf was installed in the stadium upon its opening in 1973. The first renovation occurred in 1984 when the stadium's capacity was increased to 80,290 with the addition of 16 executive suites. Eight years later in 1992, 24 more executive suites were added. In 1994, major renovations were made to the stadium including the addition of the Red Zone and Goal Line clubs that are enclosed in glass and have 500 seats. These renovations also added 14 executive suites. A massive $9.1 million (inflation adjusted) 41.5 by 31.5 feet (12.6 by 9.6 m) Sony JumboTron video scoreboard was a major update in 1994 and was the largest in the U.S. at the time. In 1998, $57 million were spent to refit the stadium with larger seats and more luxury and club seating as a part of the Bills lease renewal with Erie County. This caused the seating capacity to be reduced to just under 74,000. In the 2003 offseason, the original style turf was replaced with a newer AstroTurf product, AstroTurf GameDay Grass (also known as AstroPlay). The lease agreement also stipulated Erie County would continue to upgrade the stadium; in the summer of 2007, a new High Definition Mitsubishi LED board measuring 88.8 by 32.5 feet (27.1 by 9.9 m) was installed and replaced the 13-year-old Sony Jumbotron. Over 1,000 ft of Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED Ribbon Boards were also installed in the interior during that renovation. The total cost for the 2007 project was $5.2 million, In 2011, the Bills changed their turf to a new product, A-Turf Titan, produced by a Western New York company. As of the 2011 season, Buffalo is the only NFL stadium using the A-Turf Titan product. On December 21, 2012, the lease negotiations between the Bills, Erie County, and the state of New York ended with the Bills signing a ten-year lease to stay in Buffalo until 2023. The agreement included $130 million in improvements to New Era Field. Renovations included new larger entrance gates, larger HD sponsor boards added to each side of the video scoreboard, two new 33.6 ft by 59.84 ft high definition video boards, larger LED sponsor board added on the tunnel end of the stadium, expanded concessions, new team store, and redesign of areas and lots just outside the entrance gates.
Buffalo, by virtue of its position downwind of Lake Erie, is one of the nation's windiest cities, and as a result, New Era Field often is a difficult stadium for kickers, with swirling winds that change direction rapidly. This is exacerbated by the stadium's design. The field is 50 feet (15 m) below ground level, while the top of the upper deck stands only 60 feet above ground. The open end lies parallel to the direction of the prevailing winds, so when the winds come in, they immediately drop down into the bowl, causing the stadium's signature wind patterns.
The size of the field at New Era Field is specifically designed for National Football League dimensions and sight lines, making it extremely difficult for other outdoor sporting events such as soccer, baseball, track and field, or rugby to be held there. None of any significance have ever been held at the stadium.
On July 14, 1984, the stadium hosted a one-time-only supercross motorcycle racing event.
Syracuse University played several home games at the stadium in 1979. Syracuse was left without an on-campus home for one season between the demolition of Archbold Stadium and the construction of the Carrier Dome.
The stadium rarely hosts college football games; the stadium hosted a Black Friday contest between the UB Bulls and the Bowling Green Falcons in 2013, but before that, the last college football game at the stadium had been in 1979, when the Syracuse Orange football team used the stadium as a temporary venue while the Carrier Dome was under construction.
|Date||Away Team||Result||Home Team||Attendance|
|September 29, 1979||Washington State||25–52||Syracuse||10,004|
|October 27, 1979||Miami (FL)||15–25||Syracuse||7,729|
|November 29, 2013||Bowling Green||24–7||Buffalo||26,226|
On January 1, 2008, the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first NHL Winter Classic. The Penguins won 2–1 in a shootout in front of 71,217. On December 29, 2017, the stadium hosted a match between the U.S. and Canada at the 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships being hosted by Buffalo.
|Date||Away Team||Result||Home Team||Spectators|
|January 1, 2008||Pittsburgh Penguins||2–1 (SO)||Buffalo Sabres||71,217|
|December 29, 2017||Canada||3-4 (SO)||United States||44,592|
Several bands have played the stadium multiple times, including The Rolling Stones, who played there in 1975, 1978, 1981, 1997, and 2015. The Grateful Dead played the stadium a few times in the 1980s and early 1990s with their July 4, 1989 Truckin' Up to Buffalo performance being documented on CD/DVD. The Who, Dave Matthews Band, and The Jackson Five have all played at the stadium multiple times as well.
Double and multi-billed concerts have also been scheduled at the stadium.
There were notable large concerts that were scheduled to take place at the stadium but were later canceled. Led Zeppelin was set to perform at the stadium on their 1977 North American Tour. The concert was one of the seven remaining concerts on the tour that were canceled due to the death of lead singer Robert Plant's son. A Bruce Springsteen concert, that was originally scheduled at the stadium in 2003, was moved to the smaller Darien Lake Performing Arts Center due to low ticket sales.
Concert appearances began to wane in the 1990s at the stadium, which ended with Dave Matthews Band and NSYNC each playing a concert in June 2001, with no more concerts at the stadium for 14 years. The combination of a declining number of stadium rock acts, population decline, and the availability of other, more intimate, venues in Western New York such as Artpark in Lewiston, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Corfu, the Thursday at the Square series among others, Seneca Niagara Casino, and the KeyBank Center, which opened in 1996, replacing Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in downtown Buffalo.
|Date||Artist||Opening act(s)||Tour / Concert name||Attendance||Revenue||Notes|
|July 26, 1974||Lynyrd Skynyrd||James Gang
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
|Second Helping Tour||—||—|
|July 12, 1975||Yes||Johnny Winter
J. Geils Band
|August 8, 1975||The Rolling Stones||—||Tour of the Americas '75||—||—|
|August 7, 1976||Elton John||Boz Scaggs||Louder Than Concorde Tour||—||—|
|June 19, 1977||Lynyrd Skynyrd||Blue Öyster Cult
|Street Survivors Tour||—||—|||
|July 4, 1978||The Rolling Stones||—||US Tour 1978||72,000||—|||
|July 28, 1978||Fleetwood Mac||—||Rumours Tour||—||—|
|September 26, 1982||The Who||David Johansen
|The Who Tour 1982||80,000 / 80,000||$1,200,000|
|August 25, 1984||The Jacksons||—||Victory Tour||94,000||$2,820,000|
|August 26, 1984|
|July 4, 1986||Bob Dylan
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
|—||True Confessions Tour||63,850 / 75,000||$1,277,000|
|June 19, 1988||Van Halen
|Monsters of Rock||—||—|
|July 4, 1989||Grateful Dead||10,000 Maniacs||—||—||—||This show was documented on the CD/DVD Truckin' Up to Buffalo.|
|July 18, 1989||The Who||—||The Who Tour 1989||—||—|
|July 25, 1992||Guns N' Roses
|Faith No More||Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour||44,833 / 59,326||$1,322,574|
|June 13, 1993||Grateful Dead||—||—||—||—|||
|July 14, 1994||Billy Joel
|—||Face to Face 1994||57,058 / 57,500||$2,380,834|
|October 8, 1997||The Rolling Stones||Blues Traveler||Bridges to Babylon Tour||30,404 / 35,000||$1,655,588|
|July 21, 2000||Dave Matthews Band||Ozomatli
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
|June 10, 2001||NSYNC||BBMak||PopOdyssey||43,406 / 55,874||$2,175,436||These two concerts were the last at the stadium for more than a decade.|
|June 20, 2001||Dave Matthews Band||Angelique Kidjo
|July 11, 2015||The Rolling Stones||St. Paul & The Broken Bones||Zip Code Tour||49,552 / 49,552||$8,634,557||This is the first concert at the stadium since 2001. |
|September 3, 2015||One Direction||Icona Pop||On the Road Again Tour||38,137 / 38,137||$2,700,736|||
|August 16, 2017||Guns N' Roses||Live||Not In This Lifetime... Tour||32,245 / 35,630||$2,626,070|
|September 5, 2017||U2||Beck||The Joshua Tree Tour 2017||41,106 / 41,106||$4,269,245|||
|August 18, 2018||Beyoncé
|Chloe X Halle and DJ Khaled||On the Run II Tour||38,053 / 38,053||$4,262,076|
The stadium has also hosted the Drum Corps International championships three times.
Autocross racing events are held in the one of the stadium's parking lots during the spring, summer, and fall months. The local WNY SCCA Chapter hosts the autocrosses.
Although new stadium ideas had been proposed before the death of Ralph Wilson, with the new ownership of Terry and Kim Pegula, the prospect of a new stadium has been raised again. During his press conference to acquire the team, Terry Pegula stated, "we will gradually proceed to plan and design a stadium for the Buffalo Bills."
Since the Bills moved from War Memorial Stadium into their current home, it has been noted that the team has not won a championship since, and has had frequent periods of heartbreak. Several writers have owed this to the fact that the stadium is built just yards away from a family cemetery as part of territory once owned by the Sheldon Family. A plaque just outside the stadium at gates 6-7 graces the cemetery and also notes that the stadium was built on the site of an ancient Wenro village.
The 2016 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 57th overall season as a football team, 47th in the National Football League, fourth under leadership of general manager Doug Whaley and second under head coach Rex Ryan. The Bills hoped to improve on their 8–8 record from 2015, the team's first since 2002, but a 34–31 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 16 eliminated the Bills from playoff contention for a 17th season in a row, extending the longest active drought among all four North American major professional sports leagues. It would be Ryan's final season as head coach of the Bills, as he and his twin brother, Rob, were fired with one game remaining in the regular season.2017 Buffalo Bills season
The 2017 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 48th season in the National Football League, and the 58th overall, and third full season under the ownership of Terry and Kim Pegula. The season was the first under the leadership of general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott.
On December 31, the final week of the regular season, the Bills finally ended what would have been their 18-year playoff drought (previously the longest active drought in the NFL and the longest active playoff drought among the four major professional North American sport leagues) with the Bills winning 22–16 over the Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals upsetting the Baltimore Ravens 31–27. The Bills also improved on their 7–9 record from 2016 and clinched their first winning season since 2014. However, the Bills lost the wild card game against Jacksonville 3–10, extending their playoff victory drought to 22 years. The Bills are the last team since the NFL re-alignment in 2002 to make the playoffs.2018 Buffalo Bills season
The 2018 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 49th season in the National Football League, and the 59th overall. The season also marked the fourth full season under the ownership of Terry and Kim Pegula and their second under the head coach/general manager tandem of Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane. The team previously finished with a 9–7 record in 2017 and returned to the playoffs for the first time after having not been to the playoffs since 1999. After a 21–17 loss to the rival Miami Dolphins in Week 13, the Bills failed to match their 9–7 record from the previous season. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention the following week with a 27–23 loss to the New York Jets, ultimately finishing with a 6–10 record as numerous players from the previous season departed via trades, roster cuts or retirement.2019 Buffalo Bills season
The 2019 Buffalo Bills season will be the franchise's 50th season in the National Football League, and the 60th overall. The season will also mark the fifth full season under the ownership of Terry and Kim Pegula and their third under the head coach/general manager tandem of Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane. They will attempt to improve on their record of 6–10 from the previous season.Bills–Patriots rivalry
The Bills–Patriots rivalry is a professional American football rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. Both teams are members of the East division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The teams play two scheduled games each season as a result. The series debuted in 1960 as part of the American Football League (AFL). As of October 2016, the Patriots lead the series 70–43–1; the two clubs have combined for thirteen AFL/AFC championships.
Six Bills players, coach Marv Levy, and team founder Ralph Wilson are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while five Patriots players and coach Bill Parcells are presently enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The series has been notable for its recent lopsidedness, especially during the career of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who presently holds a record of 29–3 against the Bills with 68 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and has won more games in New Era Field than any quarterback for Buffalo since 2001. Prior to Brady's career, Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly compiled a 12–8 career record against the Patriots with 29 touchdowns and 28 interceptions; O.J. Simpson compiled a 10–4 record against the Patriots with 14 rushing touchdowns and three touchdown catches.M
M (named em ) is the thirteenth letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.New Era Field II
New Era Field II is the working title for a proposed American football stadium located near or within Buffalo, New York for use by the Buffalo Bills. Numerous proposals have been submitted to the City of Buffalo, Erie County, the Bills, and the State of New York. Regardless of whatever proposal is built, New Era Cap Company will hold right of first refusal over naming rights to the stadium as part of a naming rights deal with the team's current stadium that was signed in August 2016.Orchard Park (town), New York
Orchard Park is a town in Erie County, New York, United States, and a suburb southeast of Buffalo. As of the 2010 census the population was 29,054. This represents an increase of 5.13% from the 2000 census figure. The town contains a village also named Orchard Park. Orchard Park is one of the "Southtowns" of Erie County and is best known as the site of New Era Field, home of the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.Pat McGroder
Patrick J. McGroder, Jr. (1904–1986) was an American football executive. He served as the interim general manager of the Buffalo Bills in 1983.
McGroder was instrumental in bringing the Bills to Buffalo. After the previous Bills franchise in the All-America Football Conference was denied membership in the NFL, McGroder continued to lobby the NFL to bring a team to the city; such was his renown that it was McGroder, and not Ralph Wilson, who was Lamar Hunt's first choice to own the Buffalo American Football League franchise (Wilson was instead to own a team in Miami). McGroder had the resources to buy the team (at the time he owned a successful liquor store) but declined, thinking that the threat of the AFL would be enough for the league to expand to Buffalo. At the time, Buffalo had been a regular site for NFL neutral-site contests for two decades, and McGroder reasoned that the league's relative success in the city would make it a prime candidate for quick expansion in the face of the AFL's threat.
When the NFL again passed Buffalo up, and Wilson was unable to put his AFL team in Miami, Wilson and McGroder met, eventually agreeing to establish the modern Buffalo Bills. McGroder negotiated the lease with War Memorial Stadium and was rewarded with a position on the team's payroll in 1961. McGroder is included on the Bills' Wall of Fame in New Era Field (then called Rich Stadium). When McGroder was placed on the Bills' wall of fame in 1985 (a time in which the Bills were performing very poorly on the field and found themselves unable to compete on the free-agent market for talent, especially with the USFL), fan discontent was so high that they openly booed Wilson when he introduced McGroder. McGroder, during his acceptance speech, defended Wilson, prompting further boos from the sparse crowd.
McGroder died January 15, 1986, shortly after his retirement.Snow Bowl (2017)
The Snow Bowl was a National Football League game played on December 10, 2017, between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. It is notable for being held in the midst of a heavy lake-effect snow storm that ultimately dumped 16.7 inches of snow in Orchard Park, with between 8-9 inches falling during the game alone. The Bills won the game and improved to 7–6 on their way to snapping the franchise's 18-year playoff drought, while the loss for the Colts, who had already clinched a losing season, officially eliminated them from playoff contention.Team Canada New Year's Eve Game
The World Junior Hockey Championship is played every year from December 26 to January 5, and is a major event on the sporting calendar for many Canadians. Every year Team Canada plays their final Round Robin game on New Year's Eve. In years when the tournament is played in Canada, large crowds attend the game. It is also broadcast annually by TSN (English) and RDS (French), attracting large audiences. In years that Canada and the United States are grouped in the same pool, the United States is usually Canada's opponent. If the tournament doesn't schedule games on New Year's Eve, such as in 2002 and 2005, Team Canada will play on December 30 instead. (In 2018, Team Canada's last round-robin game was also December 30; that year, however, the marquee matchup against the United States was held the afternoon of December 29 on the outdoor surface of New Era Field.)War Memorial Stadium (Buffalo, New York)
War Memorial Stadium (nicknamed The Rockpile) is a former outdoor stadium in the northeast United States in Buffalo, New York. It hosted Minor League Baseball and professional football teams, most notably the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League (AFL), and later National Football League (NFL).
The stadium was on a rectangular block near the downtown area and its baseball diamond had an unorthodox southeast alignment (home plate to center field). The main entrance was in the left field corner at Jefferson Avenue to the east and Best Street to the south (behind right field). Its other boundaries were Dodge Street to the north (behind third base) and Masten Park to the west (behind first base) with Masten Avenue farther west. The east-west alignment of the football field was also unorthodox, running along the third base line. The elevation at street level is approximately 650 feet (200 m) above sea level.
War Memorial Stadium was built as a WPA project in 1937. It was built on top of a large block that had once been the Prospect Reservoir. It was originally named Roesch Memorial Stadium, though the name was changed to Grover Cleveland Stadium later in 1937 (honoring the former President and Buffalo public official) and then to Civic Stadium in 1938. The name was changed to War Memorial Stadium in 1960.The stadium originally sat 35,000, but expansions raised the capacity to over 46,500. Despite this, by the time of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, it was one of the league's smallest stadiums (below the league's new 50,000-seat minimum). After considering and rejecting a move to Seattle, the Bills left after the 1972 season for Rich Stadium (now New Era Field) in suburban Orchard Park, which had a capacity of over 80,000 in 1973.
|Events and tenants|
War Memorial Stadium
| Home of the
1973 – present
New Era Field II
| Host of the
Drum Corps International
Camp Randall Stadium
| Host of the NHL Winter Classic
Mile High Stadium
Joe Robbie Stadium
| Host of AFC Championship Game
1991 – 1992
Joe Robbie Stadium
Three Rivers Stadium
Drum Corps International World Championship host venues
|Government and Services|
|Research and education|
|Medicine and healthcare|
|Division championships (10)|
|Conference championships (4)|
|League championships (2)|
|Wall of Fame|
|Current league affiliations|
|Former league affiliation|
Championship seasons in bold
Founded in 2011