Erie County Legislature Approves Bills Stadium Lease

March 21, 2013 Updated Mar 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Erie County Legislature Approves Bills Stadium Lease

March 21, 2013 Updated Mar 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM EDT

(WKBW release) The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved the new Buffalo Bills lease for use of Ralph Wilson Stadium at Thursday's session, 11-0. The County Legislature also unanimously approved bonds to fund the county’s portion of the work, 11-0.

The following is a statement from County Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli (D-Buffalo, Tonawanda):

With our vote on behalf of our community, the Bills are staying in Buffalo!

Kudos to County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Deputy County Executive Rich Tobe who, for the second time in his career, was the point man for this project.  I appreciate the time and effort of the entire team they assembled to get this job done at a challenging time.  And a special thank you to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his team.

When Rich Tobe led the last successful effort to keep the Bills here in the late ‘90’s when Dennis Gorski was County Executive, the economy was robust.  It’s a little different today, post 9/11 and post Great Recession.

Being the only county elected official here today who voted for the last lease, it’s remarkably very similar to this one.

Thanks to the Poloncarz negotiating team’s work over the last year, we will maintain our national status as a host city for an NFL Franchise.  The national media exposure is priceless.  Why?

When compared to other cities that have built and renovated stadiums for their NFL teams, the Buffalo Bills have been a bargain.  Here are some recent comparisons:

Kansas City spent $400 million to renovate its stadium.  The Vikings were threatening to leave Minnesota in 2012 until they received a brand new $980 million stadium ($500 million from state and local government).

Two renovation deals haven’t been wrapped up yet.  The Dolphins have requested a $400 million deal (half from the state and Miami-Dade County) and the Carolina Panthers are looking for a $250 million deal ($62 million from the state, $144 million from the City of Charlotte and the remaining $43 million from the team).

Bargains are in the eyes of the beholder.  But, this agreement calls for a $130 million deal – with costs split among New York State –  with the largest share at just over $53 million, Erie County with just over $40 million and the Bills contributing more than $35 million. 

Why is this a good investment?  In state income tax collections alone that are projected for the next 10 years, $140 million will be added to state coffers – an amount that exceeds the investment for all three parties to this agreement.

Erie County wins, too, with added sales tax and bed tax collections.  Canadians are drawn to Erie County for three main reasons – our airport, our shopping and our Bills.  They like our Sabres too, but Canada has its own NHL teams.  It does not have an NFL team.  This agreement keeps Canadians coming and spending in our community – which benefits all of us.

The stadium opened in 1973, for a cost of $20 million.  Due to a sound maintenance plan and capital investment strategy, it has given us 40 years of continuous service generating revenues for our stakeholders.  That’s quite a legacy.

By the end of the next 10 years, our football stadium will have given us a half-century of memories and money.  This is earned income from a prudent investment.

Again, congratulations to everyone involved, with a special thanks to Mr. Ralph Wilson for believing in Buffalo.