Breaking News
More () »

Orchard Park pushing for a seat at the table in Buffalo Bills stadium discussion

"I think it would be a big blow to the community emotionally if we didn't have the Bills in Orchard Park," said Town Supervisor-elect Gene Majchrzak.

Orchard Park is almost as synonymous with the Buffalo Bills as the team's namesake city, but until recently, the town has been one of the quietest voices in the room, regarding the new stadium negotiations. Having been the home of the Buffalo Bills for 50 years, local leaders (obviously) want to keep the team in the Southtowns but say they are still pushing to get a seat at the table.

"I think it would be a big blow to the community emotionally if we didn't have the Bills in Orchard Park," said Town Supervisor-Elect Gene Majchrzak.

The town's saving grace could be that Bills' ownership has said it's hoping to stay in Orchard Park and simply move across the street. Erie County and New York State however are looking at other locations with the team, including at least one in Downtown Buffalo that could cost a billion dollars over what the Pegula's have proposed.

It's a tough position Majchrzak told 2 On Your Side; small fish, big pond. 

"Orchard Park, the town board, has not been involved in any of the discussions yet," he said.

"I did ask if we could have a voice at the table and their comment was basically, thank you and we'll reach out to you when appropriate so I'm hoping that does happen."

But while stadium design and financing details, like how much Erie County or the state will have to front for such a project will more than likely not involve Orchard Park, Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce President Don Lorentz hopes to sweeten the pot another way.

"I've been hearing many of the different considerations, Buffalo has shown for downtown, I haven't heard our side at all and I'd love for that to be able to be expressed," said Lorentz.

That 'side' is all about what could be built around a new stadium if it stays in Orchard Park. A future hotel? Shopping center? Restaurants? Each and all are possibilities.

"There was never a long-term plan for [the current stadium], there was never anything built into that to say let's make this a showplace, something that would be showcasing what Orchard Park is," Lorentz said.

"I'm thinking if we can get in now at ground level, I know there are businesses and developers that would love to partake in something bigger than what it is right now."

While he is supportive of the effort to attract the county, state, and the Bills with such a proposal, Majchrzak also doesn't want to put the cart before the horse and wants to consider other costs like public safety which he said costs taxpayers about $175,000 to $200,000 in police overtime.

"I think to be able to put that together would be a lot of work. If we never get to have an audience, it'd be for naught," added Majchrzak. "We would like some help...maybe not paying for all of [the police costs] but help pay for some of it."

Besides the added cost for police, 2 On Your Side asked Majchrzak how much revenue the town estimates it brings in when people attend a Bills game and get food at an Orchard Park restaurant or stay at a hotel. Majchrzak said he's been asked that question before but said the town doesn't have an exact number.

So 2 On Your Side stopped by 'Prohibition 2020,' which sits at the corner of Abbott Road and Southwestern Boulevard, about a football field away from Highmark Stadium. As you might guess, they said losing the team would have a huge impact.

"I think it's just one of those things where we're just going to worry about that bridge if we cross it and just hope that it doesn't happen," said 'Prohibition 2020' Manager Bernadette Singer.

"You know it's not just us benefitting [from the Bills] all the business that it brings us but also for the community all of the Bills fans that love the stadium being in Orchard Park."

Only time will tell if that love is reciprocated by the Bills and if Orchard Park's seat at the table gets established.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out