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State board approves Bills stadium deal

A public hearing is scheduled for February 2 at 5 p.m. at ECC South.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Monday afternoon, the Erie County Stadium Corporation directors unanimously approved the general project plan for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.

Stephen Gawlik, Senior Counsel for Empire State Development, told the media on Monday that this means they are close to signing the agreements.

Monday afternoon's vote by the Erie County Stadium Corporation directors, which is an entity that is part of Empire State Development, authorizes the agreements to be signed. That includes financial agreements, the environmental review, leases, and the Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA.

Even though this was a public meeting, nobody from the public spoke up on Monday to give comments, but we did learn more about the Community Benefits Agreement.

Most of what is in the summary that was released before the meeting is the information we already knew, but it did reveal some of the CBA. Erie County Legislative Chair April Baskin calls it historic.

"We got very, very close. I would have liked to see some neighborhoods specified. We know the hardship that East Buffalo has faced in the last few years," said April Baskin, Erie County Legislative Chair.

Included in the CBA is a three-million-dollar a-year commitment to the community by the Bills, a requirement that Erie County and the Bills work in good faith to expand public transportation to the stadium, and a goal of having 30% of the retailers, vendors, and service companies used in the stadium for maintenance and operations by women or minority business enterprises. 

There will also be a nine-person community benefit oversight committee.

"I would have liked to see the Black community more or less specified in the CBA, but I can understand for legal reasons why that's not necessarily appropriate, but I do believe with having community oversight, I do believe with what we've already seen from the Buffalo Bills in terms of their attention to the Black community during hardship, that we're going to continue to see some reinvestment there," said April Baskin.

There is a public hearing on February 2 at ECC South at 5 p.m. The attorney said that some light work could begin in March with big construction starting in June most likely. If there are significant negative comments at the public hearing, the board would meet again in February for final approval.

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