NORTH TONAWANDA, NY – New York State's Lt. Governor, Robert Duffy, helped negotiate the current lease deal between Erie County and The Buffalo Bills, and he sits on an advisory board exploring options regarding whether the team will require a new stadium in the not-too-distant future.
However, Duffy said he has no independent knowledge of any interest by billionaire real estate developer Howard Milstein in buying the team, as first reported by WGRZ-TV on Thursday.
"My contact, which has been pretty limited with Mr. Milstein over the last four years, has been pretty positive," said Duffy. "But I do think with his reputation and his background in business it's a good thing to have his name somehow as having an interest."
Duffy stressed that he has only heard through media accounts that Milstein has an interest in buying the team.
"My sense is there are people that are putting their hats and names in the ring right now, perhaps from around the country, and we are cheering for anyone with connections to Western New York.
Milstein has connections in the area, but also a fair share of critics…primarily for having acquired over one hundred acres of land in Niagara Falls, and (outside of tearing down blighted homes and clearing it for potential development) for having done virtually nothing else with it for well over a decade.
However, NYS Assemblyman John Ceretto, who represents the Falls is not among those critics.
"Actually Howard Milstein has been a good neighbor for Niagara Falls. His company (Niagara Falls Re-Development) pays its taxes and takes care of its properties, which are perfect for re-development," said Ceretto.
"The governor's interest is not in who buys the team," said Duffy. "The governor's interest is that whoever buys the team, it is imperative that the team stays in Western New York.