BUFFALO, NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo remains non-committal, for now, on the need for a new Bills stadium.
During a visit to the state's second largest city on Tuesday, Cuomo said there's no urgency to answer the "stadium question", until several other questions are answered regarding the future of the NFL franchise, which is currently up for sale after the passing of its sole owner, Ralph Wilson, in March.
"The first question is, 'do we need a new stadium?'" the governor told reporters while at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "And we're not there yet."
Even though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several team owners have gone on record to state that a new stadium would be essential to the team's long term viability in Western New York, Cuomo notes no one says it has to be built right away.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," said Cuomo. "Everyone wants the Bills to stay in Western new York. And, if everyone agreed that the only way the Bills could stay was a new stadium, then we should talk about a new stadium. But I don't know that that's the case."
At the same time though, the state, at Cuomo's direction,hired a consulting firm to scout locations for a potential new stadium. The consulting firm set to that task last month and has deferred all questions to the Governor's office.
"They have done a preliminary report right now, but as far as I've been informed we don't have any final report or any final recommendation.
Cuomo also cautioned about the state's ability to fund a stadium, with a price tag likely approaching $1 billion, at a time when it is trying to cut costs.
"Let's remember that a new stadium is great, and it's fun, and it's new, but it's also very very expensive," Cuomo said.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has suggested that the eventual new owner of the team would have to pay a significant portion of the cost of a new stadium, and therefore might be content to stay for a while at the place the Bills have called home for 40 years, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, which is undergoing another extensive renovation.
"We (the state) put $100 million into the current stadium, so let's see how it goes," Cuomo said.
Cuomo also noted that it remains be seen who the new owner of the team will be and what expectations they might have regarding a new stadium.
"I know there's a lot of anxiety and a lot of expectation," said Cuomo. "But the process just has to play out. We have to find out who actually bids, what the offer actually is, who the NFL and the family actually wants to do business with, and what the terms are."