BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Elected leaders in Buffalo are now responding to reports on of a fully taxpayer funded Buffalo Bills Stadium in Orchard Park.
“The numbers are not going to be discussed today. They're unknown at this point because we are just having preliminary conversations,” remarked Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul.
Lt. Governor Hochul would only confirm talks are just beginning between the state, Erie County and Pegula Sports and Entertainment for a new stadium in Orchard Park.
The Buffalo News reported Sunday the Pegula's are asking for a proposed $1.5 billion stadium to be paid completely with taxpayer dollars to replace the current Highmark Stadium.
“We are in negotiations and conversations right now and we’re learning the full-scale of what they’re proposing,” Hochul said. “This is going to be a conversation that is ongoing, but it is of utmost importance to our administration.”
For 48 years the Orchard Park stadium has been home to the Bills. It was built in 1973 — making it one of the top five oldest stadiums in the NFL.
The Lt. Governor says the state will do everything possible to keep the Bills in the Buffalo region.
“We are committed to keeping the Buffalo Bills in the city — stop period — that's it,” responded Hochul.
The stadium underwent $130 million in renovations in 2014 and 2018 as part of the current ten-year lease agreement.
The state and county delivered $95-million, the Bills contributed $35-million.
But how are state lawmakers from buffalo reacting to taxpayers paying for a new stadium?
“It’s important that we keep the Buffalo Bills right here in Buffalo,” stated Senator Tim Kennedy, New York State Senate.
“Do you see outrage from taxpayers on this at all even though they love the Bills?” Buckley asked.
“I think that there's a recognition that the Buffalo Bills play an extremely important role in our community, not only the fabric of our community, but the identity of how we are as well as the fact that they are an economic generator to the tune of millions of dollars,” replied Kennedy.
“That much of public money should not be necessary,” responded Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York State Assembly.
People-Stokes, high ranking state Assembly Majority Leader, says it is not a “realistic” ask.
“It’s too much to ask the public to sponsor your entire opportunity to me money, unless there's going to a percentage on your profit coming back to the public — now if we can add that to the negotiations — then perhaps — that’s a conversation to have,” stated Peoples-Stokes.
“I think the public really needs to speak up and say how important they think the team is to Buffalo and Western New York,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
After years of talk of building a new stadium in downtown Buffalo, Mayor Brown told reporters Monday
No one has given him any information about a future location.
“I would have loved to have seen a new stadium built in the city of Buffalo. I don't know where it is going at this point,” Brown replied.
There’s also an ESPN report that the Pegula’s could be eyeing Austin, Texas.
“We’ve heard these threats before over the years through negotiations deals,” Buckley asked Hochul.
“We’re not feeling threatened — we're having conversations with the organization — we're gong to get the result that this community needs and are sensitive to the needs of our taxpayers,” replied Hochul.
There is no comment at this time from the county nor Pegula Sports and Entertainment.