This past weekend, two Lighthouse Technology Services Team Members, Richard and Randy Harris, were fortunate enough to get a tour of New Era Field and the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Below is an account of their experience…
Lighthouse has been a Bills season ticket holder for a number of years now, and recently an open invitation was sent out by the Bills organization presenting the opportunity for season ticket holders to tour the team’s facilities. It’s not often you get to see behind the scenes of state-of-the-art facilities like these, so we jumped at the offer. There have been many recent changes to the entire complex, inside and outside, and we were excited to get such an intimate setting for a close look.
We started our journey in the ADPRO Sports Training Center, in the middle of the artificial turf practice field, surrounded by massive banners displaying the Bills’ emblem and artwork. We then ventured outside to the extremely well-managed grass practice field. There was construction along the outside of the field because the team had recently purchased some additional property behind the field and have been working on expanding the facility.
We then made our way back through the turf practice field and into the weight room, which reminded us how intensely the players train to get themselves in the necessary physical condition to play professional football. The weight room was newly expanded with top-of-the-line equipment – everything was first class in the entire training facility.
Outside in the hallway, every player and coach that has ever been a part of the team had a square tile dedicated to them with their name on the wall. Team highlights like Super Bowl appearances, or individual accomplishments like MVP awards, also had their own tile. It was a wonderful memorial to all of the players and coaches who’ve contributed to the organization throughout its rich history.
Then it was off to the team meeting room, which looked similar to a private movie theater – with enough seats for each member of the team. The meeting room is a place where the team gathers to watch video, draw up plays (they have an entire wall that’s a whiteboard), and, we’re sure, have some fun from time to time. It once served as the war room on draft day for many years and had recently been updated with new seating, lighting, new Bills art graphics on the side walls and back of the room, and more.
Back in the hallway leading to the team locker room, were images of the most accomplished Bills members, etched in glass placards with a personal quote from each individual, hanging on the wall. Bills Greats Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, former Head Coach Marv Levy, and Owner and Team Founder Ralph Wilson were a few of them.
The main locker room for the players was enormous – with enough locker stalls for every member of the team and practice squad. It had a few amazing entertainment features including a custom Bills pool table, air hockey table, ping pong table, leather chairs and couches sporting a Bills logo on each, of course, and a number of flat-screen TV’s showing either ESPN or the NFL Network. There was a station for sports-related food and drinks, and the bathrooms had barber chairs for, you guessed it, haircuts for the players. The whole space was awesome.
Separate from the main locker room was the game day locker room, who’s entrance was located in the hallway leading out to the field. This space was a much more scaled down, focused room with locker stalls outfitted for players participating in the game. We visited the day before game-day and we could see jerseys already on pads, and helmets and clothes hung up specific to the players liking.
Then it was out onto New Era Field hours before the game against the Cardinals would be played. We were on the field on Saturday, then on Sunday the Bills come up with a big win. Coincidence? (Probably). The field does not seem as big and wide when you are on it compared to when you’re looking at it from up above, and it was so neat to be out there surrounded by 70,000 seats. We headed up to the press box for a quick look at the overhead view, which, in our opinion, was one of the best views in the house, with four separate rows of seats and stations for all media members of the Bills and visiting team staff to work – there was even designated space for the Bills’ IT team!
We were able to wrap up our visit by shaking hands with a Bills Legend, Andre Reed, the Bills and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver, and he was kind enough to take a picture with us. We had a wonderful time and we’re so thankful to the organization for providing such an opportunity for fans to see behind-the-scenes. Thank you Bills!
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