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Gov. Hochul on new Buffalo Bills stadium: 'if their desire is Orchard Park, it's Orchard Park'

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Posted at 12:41 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 23:51:47-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul was in Western New York Monday morning and was asked to provide an update on the negotiations surrounding a new Buffalo Bills stadium.

Hochul said the state wanted to let the Bills see the cost of a new stadium in Downtown Buffalo and Orchard Park, but if the team wants the stadium in Orchard Park that is where it will be.

"We have had conversations and I've made it clear to the Buffalo Bills organization that we wanted to accommodate both options and let them see the cost of downtown and Orchard Park but not putting our finger on the scale and if their desire is Orchard Park, it's Orchard Park, we've never said otherwise," said Hochul.

The governor continued on to say the state has offered the Bills two timelines and she can get a deal done by the end of the year.

I've also offered two timelines to them, whatever works best for them. I can get this done by the end of this year. I can get this done. We can work out the numbers. We're having good conversations, or I also have the until the end of March because it is a budgetary item so I also have a larger window if we need more time. So it's not a hard deadline, but my desire is I'm a Buffalo Bills fan, let's lock this down. Let's get it done. So we are very intently focused on keeping the Bills here. If Orchard Park's their first choice, their only choice, it's Orchard Park and we'll make it all happen. So we're very excited about announcing a deal hopefully in the near future, but a lot of devil in the details.
- Gov. Hochul

Ron Raccuia, Executive Vice President of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, released the following statement Monday:

We appreciate the Governor’s comments this morning. There’s a lot of work to be done and we continue those efforts.
- Ron Raccuia

Bar tender at Big Tree Inn, Larry Dempsey, said the Bills staying in Orchard Park would be good news.

“This is where they belong,” Dempsey said. “They’ve been here for years; the infrastructure is here already.”

Big Tree Inn is less than a mile from the stadium and Dempsey said they rely on football season

“It’s a significant amount of revenue we would lose if they did go downtown,” Dempsey said.

According to the state’s stadium study, a downtown location would cost at least $350 million more than rebuilding in Orchard Park. But not everyone agrees building in Orchard Park is the right choice. Buffalo Council Member Rasheed Wyatt said it’s a missed opportunity.

“I’m disappointed,” Wyatt said. “Not just for me but for the fans and those who came out in support of a stadium downtown.”

Wyatt agrees that keeping the Bills in Erie County is important, but he thinks growth in Orchard Park is limited. And Wyatt said a downtown stadium could be the next step in developing the area.

“We had a great opportunity to continue to build on the improvements downtown,” Rasheed said.

“The right thing for the city and the region is keeping the Bills in our community," Mayor Byron Brown said. "All of the benefits of having the Bills in Erie County come to the City of Buffalo."

In August it was first reported by the Associated Press and confirmed to WKBW by a source close to the deal, that a plan was 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.

In November the state released the stadium study conducted by AECOM that would be used to inform stadium negotiations.

WKBW spoke to a stadium expert after the study was released who said it pointed to a new stadium in Orchard Park being the best option.

The Erie County Legislature and Buffalo Common Council have previously held public meetings on the stadium.

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