A(nother) Stadium Renovation Proposal Part 2: The Solution

Solving the issues of a thirty year old stadium that has had little upgrades for the average fan is going to be costly and will take time. In the previous fanshot, I went in detail as to what the issues with UB Stadium are (distance, viewing angles, and scoreboard). Here we will explore the solutions, the cost, and potential ways to pay for it.

The Scoreboard

Likely the easiest to determine the solution and cost of, since many college football stadiums have installed updated scoreboards. Keeping with the theme of Appalachian State as the comparison, their new video and ribbon boards cost $3 million in 2017. Costs have increased in four years, but UB does not have solid rock to drill into like Appalachian State does. We can call the cost $3 million. I cannot find any details on what sponsorships either on or of a video board would bring in, however I would think that over time the video board would mostly pay for itself.

Distance and Viewing Angles

The logical way to solve the terrible views at UB stadium is lowering the field. Logically, this would also involve adding more seating to the stadium. I think the solution here is dropping the field somewhere in the area of 20 feet to control for the viewing angles of the additional seats. I do not entirely know what should be done with the south end zone. Adding more seats to that area does not seem necessary. It could be possible to demolish those seats and put the scoreboard in its place, with some hill general admission seating similar to what Akron or Virginia does.

Danny White's original plan called for this in two phases, and notably without a price tag. Based on the costs of new stadiums and recent renovations, this could be in the $50-$60 million range, including the costs to move soccer and track and field to a new venue.

Paying for it

$15 million over 30 years - Stadium naming rights for college football stadiums are going for around $500,000 per year for UB's peers.

Wash - I think it is absurd that UB charges $30 a ticket at the box office. Any renovations to the stadium should have ticketing change to a dynamic cost model, preferred seating goes for $40-$50 a ticket and bad seats going for $10. I suspect this would be a wash in it of itself.

$300k/year ($18 million over 30 years) - Attendance increase. A stadium renovation should bring in additional fans. Colorado State saw around a 10-20% increase in attendance when they moved from their old stadium to a state of the art stadium, including a 40% increase in season ticket holders. Through ticket sales alone, this could be around $250,000 per year (average ticket cost of $15, 6 games). With merchandizing, concessions, and other revenue avenues we can round this to $300,000 per year.

This leaves a hole of about half of the cost of the renovation that is still unpaid for or would need private backing. Some of this could be made up with an increased conference payout (AAC), but I'm still rather lukewarm on changing conferences.

The Other Option

As I was watching the Charlotte game, referenced in my previous fanpost, I saw an article from Tim Graham on The Athletic titled "Pegulas invite University at Buffalo to play in Bills’ new stadium, but Bulls prefer to stay on campus." For those without access to The Athletic, the summary is:

  • The Buffalo Bills have invited UB to the table in talks for a new Buffalo Bills stadium
  • UB appears to be open to discuss, however being on campus is a large priority. AD Mark Alnutt was at Memphis previously, which uses an off-campus stadium, and said it was hard to get students to the off campus stadium.
  • The UB location identified would be near the Center for Tomorrow
  • The previous state administration took the UB site off the table
  • Select UB games (examples given were Syracuse and Penn State) could be moved to a new Bills stadium, regardless of location
  • UB is looking to modernize UB Stadium, with a video board being the highest priority, then the track removed
  • A UB master plan will be public "in the near future"

In the past, I was completely against the idea of a shared UB/Bills stadium. I've been to a Temple game at Lincoln Financial Field and the atmosphere was terrible. However, if a stadium were to go on UB's campus, and there is an easy way to make the stadium feel less empty for a college football game, this would solve all of the issues with UB Stadium currently. It is inevitable that public funds will be used to pay for the new Bills stadium, why not have it benefit the state's flagship university at the same time?

Everything Alnutt said about an off campus venue for UB I agree with completely. Student attendance has been strong the last couple of years that fans were allowed in the stadium. Student attendance was abysmal during 2011-2015 when I was in school, with a few exceptions. Why give students more of a reason to not attend games (downtown stadium, bus ride, etc)? Despite the litany of problems UB Stadium has, I would rather watch games there than in a NFL stadium.