Ralph Wilson Stadium
Ralph Wilson Stadium is a football stadium located in the town of Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. It is the home stadium for the Buffalo Bills National Football League football team and is the largest stadium of any kind in New York. It was originally named Rich Stadium.
What is now known as Ralph Wilson Stadium, also known as "The Ralph", was commissioned as a result of the AFL–NFL merger. While suitable for American Football League play, Buffalo War Memorial Stadium was both in disrepair and deemed undersized for a National Football League team, with a capacity of under 47,000 (league mandates instituted after the merger dictated a minimum of 50,000 seats).
The stadium opened in 1973. The construction of the stadium and its location were the source of years of litigation, which ended with a financial settlement for a developer who had planned to erect an all-weather stadium in Lancaster, New York. However, plans changed because it was not wanted near Lancaster High School. In 1972, Rich Products signed a 25-year, $1.5 million deal, by which the venue would be called "Rich Stadium"; this is one of the earliest examples of the sale of naming rights in North American sports. After the original deal expired in 1998, the stadium was renamed in honor of Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson, after Rich balked at paying a greatly increased rights fee, which would have brought the price up to par with other NFL stadiums.
The first playoff game at the stadium was a 17–10 Bills victory over the Houston Oilers on January 1, 1989. The Bills won every ensuing playoff game at the stadium until they were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 28, 1996.