by Pat Freeman
The momentum to overturn 40 years of bad decisions in regards to a downtown stadium is now moving to their final arguments. When the campaign to accomplish this historic project started many doubted that an endeavor of this magnitude would gain traction in western New York . Well the effort to educate, and persuade the citizens of this region I believe has finally taken hold, and the nay-sayers are losing at this point… One of the principal arguments early in my involvement was how are you going to pay for this? Your ideas make sense but who is going to pay for this? Then I met Nick Stracick and George Hasiotis of the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex and the argument totally changed. When George and Nick shared with me their plans for building a state of the art complex which would include a 72,000 seat stadium with a retractable roof, convention center, hotel, retail space, and the North American Sports Child’s Interactive Museum operated by the world renown Strong Museum of Rochester, New York reinforced my confidence that this project really could happen. The road blocks for making this happen suddenly were pushed back because the GBSEC had already completed contemporary site studies, contracted a world class architectural firm HKS who have designed the last three stadiums that have hosted Super Bowls.
After looking at five different locations the Outer Harbor was selected as the best site that met NFL specifications for new stadium development. The most important aspect of GBSEC was the financing of the complex which rivals just about every new stadium deal in the country. Most stadium deals are 35% Private and 65% Public and usually are accompanied by some form of tax increase. Not the GBSEC plan which is 70% Private financed and 30% Public with most of the public contribution associated with infrastructure improvements. The GBSEC has already invested about five years of work and well over 1 million dollars in site studies that would usually fall on municipalities to complete.
Finally I believe the nay-sayer argument has shown very little validity with the argument for this project gaining support all over western New York. The only hold up is what will be the decision on the Outer Harbor land site? Will the NFTA do the right thing and deed the property back to the city, and then the city designate GBSEC as the developer? This is the only hold up with this project moving forward. This action alone will cost tax payers nothing!!!! The responsibility of development rests with GBSEC who can then work with city engineers in determining the planning of infrastructure improvements to make this site more accessible, and suitable for the proposed development.
In closing you see this is why we are now moving towards the final argument in the case for this major downtown development that will change the landscape of the economy of western New York . My recent interview with Indianapolis Indiana Mayor Greg Ballard backs up the economic approach for team’s with NFL cities , and show’s why the proposed renovation of our existing stadium in Orchard Park, New York is a tax payer non- starter!!!!
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