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GOP county lawmaker vows to veto public dollars for new Bills stadium if vaccine rules remain in place

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 18:23:07-04

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — One Erie County republican lawmaker is now vowing to veto using any public dollars to build a new Buffalo Bills stadium, following the fan COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued Tuesday.

“I don't represent vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons, I was elected to represent people. All people,” Erie County Legislator Frank Todaro said in a statement. “I personally am vaccinated. It was the right decision for me. It is not the right decision for everyone and I respect that. I do not like the path we are heading down as a society, and as a legislator, I cannot support it. I will not support tax dollars to build a new stadium if rules remain in place that only certain people can use it. If everyone is paying for it, everyone should be able to use it,” he added.

Beginning September 25 at KeyBank Center and September 26 at Highmark Stadium, all guests 12 and over will be required to provide proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those who are under the age of 12 will be allowed to attend, but will be required to wear a mask at all times.

Last month, a source close to the deal for a possible new Buffalo Bills stadium told 7 Eyewitness News a plan has been submitted to partners with the state and county for a 60,000-seat open-air stadium with a $1.4 billion price tag in Orchard Park by 2027. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is not public, tells 7 Eyewitness News the cost of the possible new stadium is expected to be covered by some form of a public/private partnership.

Currently, democrats hold the majority in the Erie County Legislature. The Legislature is made up of 11 members: seven are democrats and four are republicans. The GOP lost the majority in 2018. Legislative seats will be voted on in the General Election November 2, 2021.

Todaro’s full statement:
“I want to be very clear about something. For months the community has been talking about building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Erie County owns the current stadium and would be responsible for building a new stadium. The Pegulas have proposed a $1.4 billion stadium that would be fully funded by taxpayers. As a legislator who will be asked to vote on this, that proposal was dead on arrival with me. Taxpayers cannot foot the entire bill. The negotiations for a new stadium and lease with the team are going on in private. Legislators aren't being apprised on the developments. The process is terrible. Today the team joins the County Executive and announces that non-vaccinated fans can no longer attend games. I don't represent vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons, I was elected to represent people. All people. I personally am vaccinated. It was the right decision for me. It is not the right decision for everyone and I respect that. I do not like the path we are heading down as a society, and as a legislator, I cannot support it. I will not support tax dollars to build a new stadium if rules remain in place that only certain people can use it. If everyone is paying for it, everyone should be able to use it. The rule wasn't in place on Sunday, and Highmark Stadium was packed. Obviously, people made a choice about whether or not they thought it was safe and I believe they should have that freedom. If they don't think it is safe, they should stay home. In conclusion, if the Bills want to make these kinds of rules on their own, they can, but they should then stop asking for significant taxpayer support. I was elected to serve, not rule. That standard seems lost on County Executive Poloncarz.”

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