Poloncarz on Bills stadium: "There's no agreement"
Erie county says there's no agreement on the table to build a new Buffalo Bills stadium.
“While we have met and discussed issues with the stadium — there's no agreement — I want people to understand that,” declared Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.
Poloncarz says lease negotiations between the state, county and Buffalo Bills is underway, but disputes a report that there is an agreement to build a new stadium on Abbott Road near the current stadium in Orchard Park.
Reaction comes after word surfaced Friday that the Buffalo Bills and Pegula Sports and Entertainment hired a consultant to explore options for a possible new stadium.
“So, I just want the public to understand — that while the Pegula's may be preparing as they are for the discussions and hiring counsel — we hired counsel to assist us, but there is no agreement to build a new stadium and when there is an agreement we will talk about it,” Poloncarz said.
An article by Venues sparked speculation of a new stadium.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment has hired legends global sales to sell premium seats and sponsorship for what it described as a new venue for the Buffalo Bills and to study construction of a new stadium.
The current stadium lease expires in 2023.
“The issue is what's going to happen, is there going to be a new stadium or is there going to be a major renovation — similar to what was done in Green Bay to that facility,” Poloncarz stated.
Built in 1973, the stadium has undergone upgrades — a cost that is shared by the county, the state and bills. Improvements made several years ago cost $130-million.
But paying for a new stadium could cost a billion or more.
“What we've been seeing in recent years is that NFL stadiums are running a billion and upward,” remarked Andrew Zimbalist, economic professor, Smith College, Massachusetts.
He points to the $5-billion costs of the SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, home to the L.A. Rams.
But it includes an entertainment center and was built with private dollars and tax incentives.
“Which just seems astronomical?" Buckley asked.
“And frankly the news is still more depressing for Buffalo because those host cities that tend to have a smaller population and a smaller footprint to the large corporation, they don't have as much bargaining power as the larger cities do and they owners know that and take advantage of that,” Zimbalist.
And that means in the smaller cities, life Buffalo — it relies on taxpayer contribution to help pay for it.
The county executive would not discuss any details, only saying it will be some time before a stadium deal is announced.
But Poloncarz says he can reassure bills fans that he expects the team will be in Buffalo for a very long time.
“I feel very confident the bills will be the Buffalo Bills for as long as I’m alive — I feel confident in that situation,” said Poloncarz.
A spokesman for the Buffalo Bills say the organization is not commenting on this topic at this point.