The Stadium Dance In Western New York

Talks have a starting point.

New York State taxpayers should be breathing a sigh of relief because the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills ownership group has conceded and will pick up some of the tab for a proposed stadium in Orchard Park. But the Pegula husband and wife Bills ownership team has not said how much they are willing to invest in the stadium. Initial estimates have the cost of the stadium coming in at around $1.4 billion but what the initial estimates are and what the stadium price tag ultimately becomes are very different figures. The stakeholders, the Pegulas, Erie County, New York and New York State have a starting point in stadium negotiations establishing a public-private partnership.

The Buffalo market is not big enough to handle an NFL franchise anymore and needs public money to help pay the freight. In 1959, when Ralph Wilson purchased an American Football League franchise and placed it in Buffalo, the area had heavy industry, steel mills, flour plants and had a major port. There was enough money in town and Wilson only paid $25,000 for the business. Today much of that is gone. Wilson didn’t want a Buffalo franchise at first. He wanted to establish a team in Miami, a city that failed to support a team in the All America Football Conference in 1946. Orange Bowl officials in Miami didn’t want the team because the 1946 Miami Seahawks ownership skipped out of town without paying rent. Buffalo missed getting an NFL in 1950 after the AAFC folded although the AAFC Buffalo Bisons-Bills franchise owner James Breuil ended up with a minority stake in the Cleveland Browns. Buffalo did host a Chicago Cardinals home game in 1958 when the NFL was looking for expansion cities. The stadium game in western New York is on.

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