by Pat Freeman
The last two weeks we have heard various announcements from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and the Buffalo Bills on why lease negotiations to keep the Buffalo Bills in western New York for the long term have stalled. Many of the faithful of western New York are starting to wonder what is going on with these negotiations that were supposed to be so clear cut. The county executive stated that he wanted an agreement in place by the start of training camp on July 26, 2012. Well it’s my belief that reality is beginning to become a major factor in trying to get a lease done in the long term when your central focus is attempting to renovate 40 year old Ralph Wilson Stadium. This opinion is based on a few undeniable facts that can’t be denied by any of the negotiating parties.
The first fact plaguing these negotiations is the uncertainty of the franchise, and the age of long time owner Ralph Wilson who will soon turn 94 years of age. No agreement can be made unless the financial investment of the taxpayer is safe guarded, and insures the long term viability of the team in Buffalo .
The second fact is the crumbling cement of 40 year old Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sources have disclosed to me the cement is so badly damaged at the stadium that the estimated repair cost could be as high as 300-600 million dollars. Making any proposed renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium impossible because the cost is to close in the vicinity of building a new facility.
The third and final reason is that there must be an economic partnership that exists between an NFL Franchise, and the Municipality which it calls home. Right now the Buffalo Bills feel that the payroll tax of its employees, and the ticket sales tax is good an adequate economic contribution to the state of New York. Well not in this version of the NFL in 2012. The price and demands of an NFL Franchise just to do business in your region demands more cooperation from NFL clubs who have benefited for years off their dedicate fan tax base.
In closing its time for the Buffalo Bills organization, County Executive Mark Poloncarz, State of New York , and the city of Buffalo to begin planning on building anew Multi-use facility that becomes part of our redesigned convention space.
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