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What is the Community Benefits Agreement included in stadium discussions?

Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 17:45:00-04

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills new stadium deal is expected to include much more than just a new $1.4 billion facility in Orchard Park.

With the most amount of public dollars ever spent on an NFL stadium going toward the project, community and business leaders alike wanted a memorandum of understanding for a Community Benefits Agreement, and they got it.

While the specific funds and allocations still need to be worked out, local leaders who are working on the CBA say all taxpayers in WNY should benefit.

“This is an opportunity for every resident of Erie County to be able to see not just us keep our beloved Buffalo Bills local but also an opportunity for this investment to help their local neighborhood and community thrive,” said April Baskin, Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature who is spearheading the CBA.

What is a Community Benefits Agreement?

A Community Benefits Agreement is commonly referred to as a CBA. It’s a legally binding agreement that the community at-large will benefit from stadium construction. Forworkingfamilies.org describes a CBA as a contract that “requires the developer provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood.” These key community benefits include things like transportation, job creation and increasing the team’s footprint.

“Throughout Erie County we have a lot of marginalized communities who operate food service entities and they could be vendors in the new stadium,” Baskin said. “I would like to see some of the concession contracts in the new stadium have a caveat for minority food service owners, women food service owners to be able to be included in the new stadium.”

Transportation to and from the stadium is one of the communities biggest sticking points.

Right now, traveling from Buffalo there is only one route to the stadium in Orchard Park, the 14C NFTA bus leaving from Washington St. & Broadway, dropping off at ECC South on Abbott Rd. & Southwestern. It takes an hour, and costs 2 dollars.

“If you have to take a bus out there and wait several hours to get home, that’s not accessible,” said Holly Nowak of the Executive Director for the Coalition of Economic Justice in Buffalo. “If we’re going to invest billions of dollars, we need to invest in the wants and needs of our neighbors.”

The group Business Backs Buffalo Football says its committed to enhancing the long-term viability of pro football in Buffalo. The group of 24 local business committee leaders in Buffalo say they’re focused on being a sounding board for the Bills—a voice from the business community. Transportation is also a key part in this group's mission.

“We want to see better access to the stadium, we want to see great public access. We want to see better ways to get in and out on gameday, so going to a game doesn’t mean you’re going to be stuck in traffic for a long time. We think that can help folks get back to Rochester, Syracuse, Erie, PA even faster and increase our season ticket holder, suite holder base,” said Matt Davison, Chair of the Business Backs Buffalo Football group.

As it relates to transportation, the NFTA says: “The NFTA has met with the Buffalo Bills, Senator Tim Kennedy, and Erie County Legislator April Baskin to discuss the best ways to provide service to the existing and future stadium in Orchard Park.”