The Fair and Football Collide?

October 3, 2013. For a brief period of time in March of 1971, the NYS Urban Development Corporation (UDC) considered the Erie County Fairgrounds as the “perfect” site of a proposed open seat stadium to host the Buffalo Bills. The $23-$27 million dollar, 65,000-80,000 seat, 15-acre facility would have been located west of the old Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad right of way, near the corner of South Park Avenue and Quinby Drive. A total of 16-sites were considered by the UDC with the Fairgrounds being the “most feasible” to be developed in time for the 1973 season.

On March 25, 1971, after much debate in the press and political jockeying by then County Executive B. John Tutuska, the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS) unanimously rejected the proposal. In a statement given to the media, the ECAS Board said, “we have a solemn obligation to the preserve the continued growth of the Great Erie County Fair as an essential part of our regional and American heritage.”

Shortly after losing the Fairgrounds land battle, Tutuska and the UDC switched focus to a site three miles north of the Village of Hamburg near the corner of Abbott and Big Tree Roads. It would be at this location, on August 17, 1973, the Bills would play their first game at the new Rich Stadium.