Bills debut stadium renovations
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Clad in a `buffalo' fur vest with matching shorts and a wool hat, Buffalo Bills season ticket holder Tom Socash surveyed the scene at a renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday night.
''The whole change starting from last year is now in full swing,'' said Socash, an Old Forge, N.Y. resident, of the stadium and team. ''As you can tell by this (outfit), I'm anticipating some January games.''
Optimism is catching among Bills fans, where the Bills unveiled $130 million in renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium at a sold-out preseason home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
''I think it's pretty cool,'' said Bob Kuroski of West Seneca, N.Y. ''Little more variety, different food. They moved the Bills store up front. It's nice.''
The upgrades include new fan-friendly amenities, such as larger concessions stands, a sports bar, easier access into the stadium and wider concourses.
''The goal with that is to get the fans to the concessions and improve the efficiency,'' Bills vice president of marketing Marc Honan said.
''A lot of it was that we weren't wired correctly. ... It might seem a little antiquated that we weren't there but we're caught up.''
While not entirely completed, the key renovations include 3 million feet of linear cable to improve communications and technology in the stadium. There are also two new video boards and 53 more points of entry.
''We've gone from 167 points of entry to 220,'' Honan said. ''We've put those at strategic locations, eliminating less-used entries and expanding the most-used spots.''
The renovations began shortly after the season ended in January, and the Bills had an extra week of training camp because the facility was not yet ready.
Bills officials credit the renovations and overall team optimism, with an uptick is season ticket sales.
Heather Seifert of Lake View, N.Y., admits as much.
''I became more likely to show up and see what it's all about,'' she said. ''So far so good. It looks really great.''
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