Ralph Wilson Stadium is a football only stadium that was constructed in Buffalo, New York in the early 1970s specifically to be a new home to the city’s Buffalo Bills. The Bills had played their first 12 seasons in War Memorial Stadium which was one of the smallest stadiums in the entire National Football League. Having outgrown it and in need of a modern facility, the Bills moved into Ralph Wilson Stadium in 1973 and have been there ever since.
Here is a look back at some interesting facts surrounding the Buffalo Bills and Ralph Wilson Stadium.
-From the time it was built in 1973 up until 1998, the stadium’s name was Rich Stadium.
-The stadium’s address is officially 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park, New York 14127
-The stadium is owned and operated by Erie County, New York.
-Since it opened, it has always been an artificial surface. AstroTurf from 1973 to 2002 and then AstroPlay from 2003 to present.
-The need for Ralph Wilson Stadium to be built came about from terms in the AFL–NFL merger of 1970 which required every team to have a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 50,000. At the time, the Bills played at War Memorial Stadium which could seat just over 46,000.
-In 1972, Rich Products signed a 25 year deal to pay to have the stadium named Rich Stadium. Naming rights for stadiums are commonplace now, but this was one of the earliest examples of the practice.
-Musical groups and performers who have appeared in concert at Ralph Wilson Stadium include Billy Joel, the Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, ‘N Sync, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Elton John, Foreigner, Santana, Guns ‘N Roses, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Sting.
-The stadium seats just over 73,000 fans.
-In 2008, the stadium hosted the NHL Winter Classic which pitted the hometown Buffalo Sabres against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an outdoor hockey game.
-Though the stadium opened in 1973, it wouldn’t host an NFL playoff game until 1989 when the Bills defeated the visiting Houston Oilers 17-10.