Opening Pilot Field
Pilot Field was constructed as a minor league baseball stadium in 1988 by the City of Buffalo. At that time Pilot Field was considered to be state of the art among all minor league facilities and designed to for possible Major League play.
The stadium was built with the hopes that it would lead to Buffalo earning a Major League expansion franchise. The quest for Major League was the desire of Bob Rich Jr. and he and his team made a tremendous effort to make it happen. Unfortunately the expansion committee passed on Buffalo as a home for a new Major League baseball team.
Regardless of the decision by Major League baseball, the stadium that went on to be named Pilot Field (now Coca Cola Park) was still considered to be the jewel of the minor leagues. Even today the ballpark holds up as one of the finer ballparks outside of the Majors.
The video feature embedded on this page is a story done by Bob Koshinski, then with WKBW-TV, in 1988. The story was part of a thirty minute special that aired on the night of April 13th, 1988, the night before the Bisons home opener against the Denver Zephyrs.
The story profiles many of the features that made Pilot Field so unique for a minor league stadium, including food service, video scoreboard and locker rooms. Included among the interviews is Mindy Rich, wife of Bob Rich Jr. and Vice-Chairman of Rich Products Corporation and Jon Dandes, now President of Bison Baseball.
The very first contest played at Pilot Field by the Buffalo Bisons was on a cold, but sunny day and they won that contest 1-0 on a Tom Prince solo home run. Pilot Field shown bright on that day as the jewel of minor league baseball.