The Buffalo Bills @ The Buffalo Central Terminal

Developer Paul Ciminelli has conducted his own study that leads him to believe that the Central Terminal is the ideal location for an urban Buffalo Bills stadium.

Speaking with Ciminelli, I learned that one of the main reasons behind supporting this location was the opportunity and ability to help create a sports district in the city of Buffalo. After all, the Central Terminal campus will become whatever we deem it will become. In the case of Buffalo sports, Ciminelli feels that by placing the Bills stadium at the site, sports-mania will take hold and ripple outward, thus creating a sports destination unto itself. 

The study pointed to the following attributes as reasons for pushing for the Central Terminal site:

Ability to strengthen Buffalo’s national presence
Historic adaptive reuse opportunity
Unique fan experience
Access to public rail and bus service
Access to and from multiple travel arteries including I-9-, I-190, Route 33, and Route 62
Potential year round revenue sources
Close proximity to Buffalo’s Central Business District
Close proximity to International border crossings and Canadian fan base
Direct rail service to and from Toronto and New York City
Ability to revive Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood
Opportunity to spark further growth in the City of Buffalo

Ciminelli told me that the site would alleviate any parking concerns (with room for over 10,500 cars). Moreover, ample parking spaces means that there would be plenty of room for tailgating, lauded as a Buffalo tradition that needs to be upheld.

At the same time, by placing the stadium at the Terminal, there would be beneficial ways to better activate mass transit. Plus, there is easy access to highway routes.

People have been talking about the best use for the Central Terminal. According to Ciminelli, here it is. Now that the conversation has begun to shift towards the benefits of an urban stadium, Ciminelli is asking local officials and the community to consider a site that is sitting right under our noses. There’s plenty of available land, there’s potential to reinvigorate the historic landmark, and there are ways to benefit the surrounding neighborhoods, says Ciminelli.

A Terminal relocation plan would be beneficial in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood:

Land freed up by the relocation plan could support a Buffalo Bills’ stadium, including its parking requirements
Strategic shovel ready parcels are available for complementary development
The proposed future site plan, utilizes the adjacent William Street lot that is occupied by a downsizing postal facility, and reroutes double high freight trains away from the terminal to renew passenger train service

Ciminelli points to the iconic nature of landmark adaptive reuse projects, which would raise the level of excitement on game days, as well as non-game days if the campus was to incorporate other potential destination-driven uses – ie., the Central Terminal building becoming a year round draw.

A Buffalo Bill’s stadium at the Central Terminal would help create a sports district in Downtown Buffalo:

Location ensures another strong point of interest throughout the City
Short distance to several major sporting venues
Distance away from First Niagara Center and Coca-Cola Field lessens traffic congestion and parking shortages during sporting overlaps
Encourages use and development of the City’s mass transit infrastructure

“Trains should be coming in from Rochester and Toronto – we need to tie in to the other communities,” said Ciminelli. “We should be taking into account the mega region when it comes to our population. Other cities’ metro markets are 7 counties. Here in WNY, we count two counties, and we act like Rochester is another country. When I bring new people here from out of town and show them where the Peace Bridge is located, and where Toronto is (with 8 million people), they can’t believe it. We need to collaborate more as a united economy. This region is larger than people think it is – a region of over 10 million people. We deserve to make a statement with our Bills stadium – the Central Terminal would make a big statement.”

Ciminelli points the Central Terminal as having the acreage, the transportation infrastructure potential, and the historic cache to be a stadium game winner.

“If there’s any area in the city where there is raw development acreage, it’s the Central Terminal,” said Ciminelli. “You can incorporate an iconic structure right into the stadium itself. Tell me that wouldn’t be cool? There’s no reason to build hotels or a convention center, or to move the entertainment district, if you have tailgating and enhanced transportation options. You create residential infill to Larkinville, which is halfway to downtown, and then more residential from Larkinville to downtown – it becomes a corridor. Sprinkle the corridor with amenities, but get people moving from downtown to the Central Terminal.”

As for financing the project, Ciminelli says that the Central Terminal site would most likely be eligible for historic and brownfield tax credits, as well as transportation funding.

“This is a starting point,” said Ciminelli. “It’s a way to get the conversation going. Historic sites of this magnitude need an anchor like this – it gives them the financial longevity that they need to be viable. Everyone has been looking for a way to make the Central Terminal viable. To me, the Bills stadium is a possible answer.

A Buffalo Central Terminal stadium would increase access to Buffalo Bills home games due to:

An extensive local rail line network
Regional Amtrak routes
Surface and structured parking
Access to major highways
Bus and taxi drop-off points
Park and ride locations throughout WNY
Activating The Belt Line, and/or trolley line along Broadway

“You want a real gameday experience?” Ciminelli asked. “It’s got the best of all worlds. We can retain our 50 years of tailgating, reinvigorate a neighborhood, invest in transportation, and create a new destination in the city of Buffalo, built around our love of sports and architecture.”

I asked developer Rocco Termini what his thoughts were pertaining to the Central Terminal location for the stadium, and he said, “The most important thing is that it’s built in the city.”

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For more food for thought, refer to Lance Sabo’s 6-part Buffalo Rising column that pointed to the Central Terminal as being an ideal location for the Bills stadium (article from 2014).

Rendering from Lance Sabo’s article

Also read:

Ryan Miller’s viewpoint and analysis of a downtown Bills stadium

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