ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The new Buffalo Bills stadium agreement announced Monday opens the door for Erie County to wash its hands of owning, leasing or operating the new 1.35 million square foot facility in Orchard Park.
“Erie County will no longer be in the football business,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz during a press briefing on the deal Monday.
Under the new deal to build a $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park, the County transfers all land ownership rights to the newly formed Erie County Stadium Corporation, which is an arm of New York State. The state will then lease the land to the Bills.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz says this ultimately will save the taxpayers of Erie County millions.
“Right now Erie County to the tune of approximately $7 million a year is providing operating assistance to the Buffalo Bills and capital assistance. We will no longer have that obligation.”
And he says the county contributes millions in “capital” money that the team can use for anything including contracts. That ends when the new deal is signed.
Poloncarz says this is a good, fair deal for the taxpayers of Erie County.
“There will be no tax increase,” he said.
Getting out of the football business appears to be sitting well with county lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"I think it's a good thing,” said Republican minority leader Joe Lorigo. “It allows county dollars to go toward county infrastructure.”
Democrat Majority Leader April Baskin agreed.
“That’s a good thing because when it comes to maintenance and fiscal responsibility of the stadium the taxpayers do have a huge burden,” she said.
The county will however contribute $250 million toward the construction of a new stadium. $75 million will be contributed from Erie County surplus.
Erie County will also pay money it generates from a surcharge paid for by those who use the facility.
“It was always one of my goals to make sure Erie County did not have an operating subsidy going forward,” he said.
The new 30-year lease will begin once the new stadium is complete and open to the public.