Governor's Plans of Retaining Bills in Buffalo Not As Expected

11:43 PM, Jan 19, 2012   |    comments
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Ralph Wilson Stadium - Courtesy: US Presswire

Posted by: Joseph Spector

The governor's budget documents Tuesday stoked hope in Western New York that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was making a major financial commitment to keep the Buffalo Bills in town.

In the budget, it includes $84 million to support ongoing economic development initiatives and mentions including "the retention of professional football in Western New York."

But alas, the money is about $3 million -- the final payment of a 15-year commitment of $63 million for upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium first approved in 1997, state budget officials said.

2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten confirmed that total with a spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said there is no other money set aside in the budget proposal to help pay for stadium improvements.

While the Bills will not say how much the stadium renovations may cost, estimates have been up to $100 million for the aging stadium. The Bills lease with Erie County expires next year.

Cuomo has made keeping the Bills a priority, but his spokesperson did not comment when asked about a specific financial commitment.

Cuomo has committed $1 billion to Buffalo for economic development, but it's unclear whether the Bills would be eligible for some of the money.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz would not do an interview on camera with 2 On Your Side Wednesday, but he sent a statement:

Through conversations I have had with Governor Cuomo, his staff and comments he has made publicly, the Governor has made it clear that keeping the Bills in Buffalo is as much a priority for the state as it is for my administration. Whether or not there is funding specifically identified, the mere mention of 'the retention of professional football in western New York' as a critical economic development investment shows me that this is on the Governor's mind and the state will be an active participant in upcoming negotiations," Poloncarz said. "Keeping the Bills here is not only important for our economy but also critical to the framework of our community. And as the Governor has said recently, what is good for Buffalo is good for New York State.

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