It is Orchard Park or bust this week.
According to CBS Sports, the owners of the Buffalo Bills National Football League franchise want a new stadium in Orchard Park, New York only. Bills ownership wants New York State taxpayers to pick up a large portion of the estimated $1.4 billion cost to build a 60-thousand seat facility. The negotiations between the franchise owners and New York State and Erie County officials have started and the Bills’ PSE spokesperson has thrown down the gauntlet. The team owners, “the Pegulas have made a proposal,” said Jim Wilkinson. “They would like to build it right there and we need to hear back. You can’t really do plans and designs on things until you have a deal, and right now the City of Buffalo and the State are going to have to decide if they want a team.” There is a new governor, Kathy Hochul, at the bargaining table and there is the aftermath of Hurricane Ida that hit downstate. Hochul is running for governor in 2022 and the Bills stadium might become a campaign issue. Buffalo needs a public handout.
The Buffalo market is not big enough to handle an NFL franchise anymore and is at best a regional market that includes Syracuse, Rochester and Toronto. In 1959, when Ralph Wilson purchased an American Football League franchise and placed it in Buffalo, instead of Miami, the area had heavy industry, steel mills, flour plants and a major port. Wilson only paid $25,000 for the business. The Pegula’s Bills lease to use the Orchard Park facility ends in 2023. Former Governor Andrew Cuomo was in the Bills ownership camp in 2012 with a new lease agreement which included renovations and taxpayers handing over a couple of million dollars annually to Bills owners. Bills ownership claims all it wants is an Orchard Park stadium that would open in 2027.
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