Scott Radecic is no stranger to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
In the late 1980s, the former Buffalo Bills linebacker knew that field well. His view then was from the ground up – a 360 degree panorama of fans stacked stories high, boxing in his action on the field.
In 2013, Radecic is seeing the Ralph from a different angle. In fact, he's seeing it from every angle.
From the concourses, to the Bills Store, down to the trees on Abbott Road, Radecic and his team of architects at Populous announced plans on Thursday to renovate and add on to numerous facets of Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It's a project for the fans, seeking to enhance the gameday experience. And though his Bills gameday wasn't that of a fan's, Radecic feels his time in Buffalo gave him an understanding of this region that will directly translate into the renovation plans.
"In playing here, you appreciate the passion of the fans in Western New York and that they understand and love football," he said. "It means so much to them, and helped me understand what people want and need in this renovation, and what this means for Buffalo."
It's this balance between football knowledge, fan understanding, and architectural experience that helped Radecic break into the business. That delicate mix continues to provide inspiration for his designs today as a Senior Principal Partner at Populous, an international architectural firm specializing in the design of sports facilities. In that role, weaving together his athletic and architectural backgrounds, he's worked on a number of arenas and stadiums across the country.
"As an architect, anytime you understand your client's business, you can design a better product for your client," he said. "So having been in this business, we understand what it's like to be around the game of football. We understand the business of football. We understand what it's like to be a fan of the game."
Knowing the realities and instabilities of a playing career in the NFL, Radecic had the foresight to start utilizing his Architectural Engineering degree from Penn State while he was still playing football. He left the Bills for the Indianapolis Colts after the 1989 season, networked in the industry a few years later, and began working as an architect in the NFL offseason. Remarkably, he worked for 5 years while still playing for the Colts.
Ralph Wilson Stadium isn't the first stadium he's played in and has had a hand in renovating - Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City is the other - but Radecic says his experience in Buffalo gave him some of his best memories of his NFL career.
"I always love being in Buffalo," he said. "There are so many friendly faces. People treat me like I never left."
Saying it's "spectacular to be back" some 24 years later, Radecic is energized to return and make an off-the-field impact for a place and an organization he's so comfortable with.