New Era Field, the home of the Buffalo Bills, is getting new turf for the upcoming season. It will replace the turf that was put down in 2011.
However, some county lawmakers see the potential for a lot of green on the field that could do a lot of good.
“The taxpayers of Erie County own that turf,” said County Legislator Joe Lorigo (C- West Seneca), who has a resolution before his fellow lawmakers directing that the turf be auctioned off with the proceeds directed to charities, specifically those involved in serving underprivileged athletes.
“A short time ago legislator John Bruso (D- Lancaster) put in a resolution to take a 100’ by 125’ piece of the turf at New Era Field and give it to the Lancaster Boys and Girls Club for a field," said Lorigo.
But lawmakers soon learned that would be impossible, due to certain NFL restrictions.
“The NFL won’t allow large pieces such as that because they would have to take out licensed logos and things like that," he said.
But Lorigo wasn’t about to punt.
He believes the stadium turf could be cut up into smaller pieces, which wouldn’t contain anything subject to copyright, and then sold off to fans who might want to use them as area rugs or wall hangings in their “man caves”.
“That would be the idea…we could have an online auction open to fans in Western New York and beyond and use the money to help out some good causes," Lorigo said.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz, however, says there are additional concerns to be addressed before such an auction could be held.
“We would have to follow state procurement rules, which means we just cannot necessarily give it away or auction it off,” explained Poloncarz. “It would be like anything else owned by the people of Erie County, such as a vehicle or a desk. It actually has to follow the procurement guidelines which also cover disbursement.”
Poloncarz isn’t throwing a flag on the idea, as much as he is saying that it is subject to - in the parlance of the NFL - “further review”.
“For those calling for it to be cut up so they could maybe own part of the turf, we're looking to see if that's feasible and to make sure it won’t cost us more to cut it up than we might get in return,” Poloncarz said.
Under the stadium lease with the Bills, the county contributes $3 million annually for stadium maintenance and upgrades, which this year includes new turf.
We are told that it is not unusual for the turf to have to be replaced after just 8 years of use, due to its exposure to the weather in these parts.