Consultancy CAA ICON to study venue options for Buffalo Bills and Sabres

29 November 2018 3 min. read
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Pegula Sports Entertainment (PSE) – the owner of the Bills and Sabres – has hired consulting firm CAA ICON to review and recommend the way forward for the suburbs-located New Era Field – be it renovation or a new downtown stadium. The study will also address potential renovations for KeyBank Center, the home of the Buffalo Sabres.

The privately funded feasability study arrives with the Bills having five years left on their lease with the state and county, and with the Sabres having eight years remaining on their deal. A previous study completed by the state in 2014 projected that a new stadium would cost over $1 billion, while renovating New Era Field would cost about $540 million. The new study, conducted by CAA ICON, will start from scratch, though it will use the 2014 study as a reference point.

New Era Field was erected 45 years ago, while KeyBank Center was built 23 years ago.

Speaking to the Associated Press, PSE Chief Operating Officer Bruce Popko said there would be no preconceived notions favoring renovations versus a new facility for the Bills’ stadium. He also related that it was too early to say how much taxpayers would have to front for the eventual plans.

“As both New Era Field and KeyBank Center have aged, they have fallen behind modern standards,” commented Popko. “Terry and Kim Pegula have invested more than $2 billion of their own money in our market, including $350 million in privately-financed venue upgrades and expansions. With both leases nearing expiration, we look forward to developing a plan and working with our public sector partners to solidify the futures of the Bills and Sabres.”Consultancy CAA ICON to study venue options for Buffalo Bills and SabresOver the coming months, CAA ICON will consult with ownership, fans, and the Buffalo community to complete the feasibility study. CAA ICON was formed out of CAA Sports’ acquisition of ICON Venue Group in 2016. CAA Sports is a part of leading talent and sports agency Creative Artists Agency.

CAA ICON provides management consulting to sports and entertainment owners, as well as professional franchises and leagues. The specialist firm delivers client support in the areas of strategic advisory (valuations, transaction due diligence, negotiation advisory), feasibility and planning (project development plans, financial feasibility, venue/financial assessments), and project management (managing the venue development process).

In order to complete the study, CAA ICON has partnered with national and local architecture and engineering consultancies, including Populous – which will lead architecture and planning services.

“CAA ICON will collaborate with PSE, the Bills and Sabres fanbase, and the Buffalo community to understand and unlock the perfect spectator experience and optimize these venues for what is unique to Buffalo and its rich gameday traditions,” commented Tim Romani, CAA ICON Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Romani has overseen more than 50 venue developments during the last 25 years.

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna win a Bowl

Billionaire Terry Pegula, an oil man by trade, purchased the Buffalo Sabres in 2011 and the Buffalo Bills in 2014. The two teams, unfortunately, have been mired in a sort of sports futility for nearly 50 years. The Cubs winning the World Series, however, shows that anything is possible, curses can be broken, and that the future remains unwritten.

The Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls (XXV-XXVII, 1991-1994), losing all four contests. Since joining the NFL in 1970 (when the AFL and NFL merged), the Bills have yet to win a Super Bowl. Similarly, since joining the NHL in 1970, the Buffalo Sabres have yet to win the Stanley Cup. The Sabres appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975 and 1999, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars, respectively.

The Bills, currently with a 4-7 record, will likely miss this year’s playoffs; the team has made only one postseason appearance since 1999. Meanwhile, the Sabres currently sit atop the NHL standings with a 17-6 record. It’s still the early going of an 82-game season, but the Sabres should have a good shot at making the postseason after finishing last in the league in three of the previous five seasons.