Brown ready to tackle new stadium plan

February 12, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 9:17 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

...

Brown ready to tackle new stadium plan

February 12, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 9:17 AM EDT

To Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown being named to the just-christened Buffalo Bills Stadium Review Board goes well beyond basic honors.

The bigger picture is putting together a package that includes a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.

"The psychological hold the Bills have over the region is incredible." Brown said. "Personally, as the mayor of the city of Buffalo, I'd love to see the new stadium built in Buffalo, but I am very cognizant that the more critical issue is retaining the Buffalo Bills in Western New York."

Talk of the Bills getting a new stadium was one of the items in the 10-year lease package negotiated between the team, New York state and Erie County in December 2012. While the 41-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium is in the midst of a $130 million makeover, it was acknowledged when the current lease expires there may be expectation that the Bills have a new stadium.

To review that scenario, a 21-person board is being put together jointly by the Bills, New York and Erie County. Brown was one of the first five people Gov. Andrew Cuomo selected to represent New York state. His other appointees include Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Empire State Development President Kenneth Adams and Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO. Cuomo still has two other appointees to the board.

Erie County and the Bills also each have up to seven appointees.

Cuomo said he hopes the board meets soon.

For his part, Brown said he fully understands the importance of the board and any decision it makes.

"It is another opportunity to shape the future of our region for a new generation," Brown said.

Building a new stadium, regardless of the location, may come with a development price tag approaching $1 billion. More than likely at least 1,000 acres of land - roughly the size of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport - may be needed, sources said. The development would likely include a stadium with a seating capacity in the 65,000 to 70,000 range, separate training facilities, administrative offices, parking and open space for tailgating.

Including Dyster to the review board emphasizes the regional impact the Bills have on Western New York. Brown and Dyster have a close working relationship.

Duffy, who hails from Rochester, is another regional symbol. The Bills draw approximately 15 percent of their season ticket base from the 585 area code communities and the team holds its training camp each summer at the St. John Fisher College campus in suburban Rochester.

"I view it as an important symbol of just how regional the Buffalo Bills are," Brown said.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.