The Buffalo Bills home stadium is named for their longtime owner Ralph Wilson. The stadium opened in 1973 and has a seating capacity of almost 72,000. Although the stadium has been around for a very long time especially by today’s standards, they have made many improvements to the Ralph which have kept the Bills fans somewhat up with the times.
The fans in Buffalo were understandably worried when owner Ralph Wilson passed away in 2014. There was the Bills, in a small market during a bad economy, the team up for sale and an old outdated stadium, there was much speculation the team could be moved. But when the team was sold to the Pegula family and they assured the people of Western New York that the team was going nowhere, the fans rejoiced.
There are plans for a new stadium eventually to replace Ralph Wilson Stadium, but that will not be in the near future. For right now though, The Ralph is plenty good enough for the Bills fans.
Many of the upgrades that took place were in the food concessions and concourse areas. There was a time when fans knew to bring their own food and tailgate before going into Ralph Wilson Stadium unless they were good with a hot dog and some popcorn. But those days are now gone.
Inside Ralph Wilson Stadium there are now many different food vendors where fans can get a taste of the local cuisine while watching the game. Choices range from large pizza slices from a local pizzeria, Buffalo Wings (of course), Italian sausage and the Buffalo mac-n-chees dog. There are now many beer choices including Coors Light, who owns the Coors Light Sports Bar inside the stadium.
A giant HD video board has been added to the Ralph along with two smaller ones in the end zone corners so fans can keep up with out of town scores, watch the latest fantasy football updates and the Bills game stats.
The seats are blue benches with backs on them. That’s it not exactly up to par with most NFL Stadiums that now mostly have chairs with arm rests and cup holders, but this is an old stadium so the benches give it the old stadium feel.
The neighborhood around Ralph Wilson Stadium is a rather quiet neighborhood with a lot if residences and strip malls. It is a rather quiet place until game days. In this sense, Buffalo is a lot like Green Bay in that the football team means everything to the community. When the talk was the Bills might leave for Toronto or elsewhere, there was real pain in this town.
Ralph Wilson Stadium is Buffalo. With the renovations made and the cleaning up of the facility, it has become more fan friendly in recent seasons. The staff has made an effort to remove intoxicated fans, sometimes refusing to allow them in before the game.
Buffalo has not been to the postseason since 1999 and the weather there is some of the bitterest cold in the NFL, yet these fans still come out every Sunday. “Shout” is the unofficial theme song of the Bills and they play it during player introductions. If two Bills fans were to pass by each other in Europe wearing a Bills item of clothing, one would likely sing “Hey ay ay ay” and the other would sing it back. Nobody else would know what it meant, but to Bills fans it makes perfect sense.
Graphic via delawarenorth
When the Bills do eventually replace Ralph Wilson Stadium, it will be sad to see another one of the NFL’s great venues go away. Some of us miss the days when the NFL was all about the blue collar fans of the team who were there to root for the boys and not so much about showing up to hang out in the club levels and the sky boxes to entertain clients.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with more seating room, better concourse areas and the huge video scoreboards. We won’t complain about those.
Graphic via buffalobills