by Pat Freeman
The big news of the week came from one Bills drive on Friday December 21, 2012 when the Buffalo Bills, state of New York and Erie County announced a new 10 year lease for the Bills to remain in Western New York . Many are now relieved that at least the Bills will remain in western New York for at least seven years. Yes I said seven years on a ten year lease because there is a clause in the agreement which gives a possible new owner an out of western New York with around a 28 million dollar buy out.
This is the clause which should immediately signal to elected officials that there is very little time here to build a new state of the art facility to lock the team into western New York for the long term. That means you don’t have time to wait on political bureaucracy such as we’ve witnessed with the Signature Bridge, and Bass Pro, these projects got stuck in red tape and have never come into fruition.
The stakes are high on the decisions of political officials like they never have seen before to make the right decision for the citizens of western New York. Forming a committee to do a study follows the blue print for disaster that is similar to the 1969- 70 new stadium study that resulted in scandal, wasted money, and a few people doing jail time. It also cost the taxpayer the cost of two stadiums and only received a low budget open air stadium which we call today Ralph Wilson Stadium that originally cost 23 million dollars nearly 40 years ago. If you remember during that time the New England Patriots built a similar low budget open air stadium which has since been committed to the wrecking ball because these stadiums were not designed to last that long because they are built into the ground with low raising stands , and are subject to foundation shifts which result in inevitable structural damage.
In closing I must commend the negotiators for not paying the game expenses on games not located in Orchard Park something that former County Executive Joel Giambra forgot when he signed off on the games being played in Toronto and cost Erie County tax payers around 8 million dollars over the last five years. My quest continues to see the Economic landscape of this region changed by the building of a new multi-use stadium Complex preferably the unique proposal made by the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex which fits into the modern relationship that must be created by municipalities that have an NFL Franchise.
No matter what you heard on Friday the most important message that we as citizens must recognize is that a new stadium that has multiple use is the only way you can afford a NFL franchise. The exclusivity of use of the stadium in Orchard Park is no longer affordable to regions that have NFL Franchises. We must have a facility that is part of our convention space and is used year round for a variety of events. Those that were the nay-sayers months ago are now admitting that this is the only long term solution to this franchise being in western in New York .