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The latest stadium stirrings in Buffalo

All sides involved, and even those potentially involved, in a future decision on a stadium for the Bills seem to agree on one thing, that there won’t be much to talk about until a comprehensive study is finished late this summer.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As decisions will be weighed and eventually made over the coming months and years regarding whether to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills or further renovate 45-year-old New Era Field, whoever is the Erie County Executive will be a key player.

However, when asked just two weeks ago about the topic, the current county executive, Mark Poloncarz, told reporters, “The only one that wants to talk about a new stadium is the media. Go talk to the Bills. That’s my answer to that."

Kim Pegula, who owns the NFL team along with her husband Terry, offered that there are plenty of people, other than the media, wanting to talk about the issue.

A lot of them.

High Interest

“We’ve had tremendous response,” Kim Pegula told reporters at the NFL Owners meetings in Arizona, regarding a survey sent to fans as part of a feasibility study the Pegulas are conducting regarding a future home for the team.

“We’ve had 30,000 responses from both our football and hockey fans,” she said, speaking of the surveys which also are trying to gauge the appetites of fans for costly renovations at KeyBank Center, home of the NHL Buffalo Sabres, also owned by the Pegulas.

The study isn’t expected to be completed until late summer, according to Mrs. Pegula, who also indicated that because it is a study being conducted and paid for privately by the Pegulas, the results likely won’t be made public.

“The fact that 30,000 people have already weighed in as opposed to 600 for the convention center certainly says something,” said Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon (I-Hamburg), referring to a Poloncarz sponsored study looking into possibilities for a new convention center downtown.

Dixon is challenging Poloncarz for Erie County Executive and is the first woman ever to seek that office.

Who Pays for What?

Should she be successful in her bid to unseat Poloncarz this November, Dixon would suddenly become a major player in the decisions going forward.

“The Pegulas have in the past shown an appetite for making private investment into this community and I suspect they would be very willing participants in the funding for a stadium," Dixon told 2 On Your Side.

But she also expects a portion of any new stadium costs, or continued renovations of the current one, to fall to taxpayers.

“When we get to those negotiations there has to be willing input from both the public and private sector,” said Dixon, while saluting the Pegulas for the work they’ve done thus far and will continue to do to gauge public opinion.

Added Dixon, “I've seen New York State make public investment in other stadiums around the state and I certainly would expect the state to be a player here."

Of course, the quarterback on that field would be Governor Andrew Cuomo who in his last public remarks on the topic, during a debate prior to his re-election last November, was non-committal.

"I'm not at the stadium point yet," when asked by debate moderators if the taxpayers or the Pegulas should pay for a new stadium.

A Big Tab

“If the Pegulas tomorrow said they wanted to build a new stadium and pay for it themselves they could do that,” said Poloncarz, following his State of the County address on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think they would because these are expensive options…you’ve gotta expect at least a billion dollars."

When asked what he thought what would be a fair amount for the county and its taxpayers to contribute to a new stadium, Poloncarz replied, “I don't negotiate in public," citing the policy he adopted when he negotiated the last stadium lease between the team and the county in 2012.

Asked on Tuesday by Channel 2 Sports Director Adam Benigni whether he would be willing to foot the bill for a new stadium himself, team owner Terry Pegula, a billionaire, replied, “I don’t know”.

However, Pegula offered up a vision for the type of new stadium he might like, should a new one come to pass.

“I think probably a scaled down version of some of these palaces being built around the country,“ said Pegula. “We need something that is Buffalo style…but we’ll see what the study tells us after it’s completed.

More on WGRZ.com

Pegulas discuss possible new 'Buffalo-style' stadium for Bills

Pegula Sports now asking fans about KeyBank Center upgrades

Next step in stadium study: Focus group number one

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