ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It seems like the state, Erie County, and the Buffalo Bills may be in the final stages of their primary negotiations over the future home of the NFL franchise here in Western New York.
On Monday we heard from Governor Hochul that she and the state will go along with whatever location the Pegulas prefer for the new stadium. That appears to be right across Abbott Road from the current stadium in Orchard Park.
So there are a lot of ideas now being thrown around about potential new development near the new stadium.
Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Lorentz says "We should become a destination. Here we are on national TV as they say - 'Live from Orchard Park' - most of the people that come here - they drive into the stadium and then leave after the game's over."
That is why Lorentz and some other town leaders are pitching the idea of fixing the 1970's era mistake of putting nothing else around the stadium and instead of planning a retail complex with restaurants, bars, shops, and a high-rise hotel. And Lorentz says some developers are definitely interested in some of those ideas. 2 on Your Side pointed out, "There are lots of lands available there isn't there? Lorentz replied: Yes lots of land along Southwestern Boulevard that could be used for commercial enterprises."
And that's where they may intercept and run back the idea of a smaller version of Patriot Place. That's the mall complex around Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts which has those elements along with a history museum for diehard Patriots fans.
Lorentz says let's do that for Bills, Sabres, and Bisons' fans along with our Western New York music and broadcasting legends in their own museum near the stadium...
He says, "I don't know of any other area that has a fan base like we have. You know we hear about the Bills Mafia but just in general the fans that have been so dedicated."
Lorentz says perhaps land or facilities could also be used from the adjacent and now unsure future area of the ECC South campus. That's technically in Hamburg so it might be up to that town's leaders and Erie County officials.
And what about the Pegulas and their management firm?
Lorentgz says he hasn't heard from them but "I would think that they're aware of what we're saying and will give us some encouragement whether it be financial or just that it's doable."
An overall again this game plan strategy and premise for that possible development. Lorentz says "When you look at our fan base and how much support has been given, even in some of the worst seasons, the amount of support that our fan base has given the Buffalo Bills. I can't imagine the way things are going right now and having a showplace - someplace that really could be a crown jewel for football."
We are stressing here that there are no definite development plans right now. But just like the Bills in Buffalo group with their favored downtown Buffalo location, they hope to jumpstart discussion to see if it could happen.
There has been no comment so far from the Pegulas or their own firm.
Orchard Park Councilman Conor Flynn is raising all sorts of questions like land use, ownership, and taxes. He suggests a Stadium Advisory Committee help as the town government might have lots to consider.