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Status of economic development around the future Bills stadium

"It's going to be a growing process. We have obviously never done this before," Orchard Park Town Supervisor Gene Majchrzak said.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The state, Erie County, and the Buffalo Bills continue to put the finishing touches on their new stadium agreement with just a couple of months to go before the team would like to break ground.

The multiyear project will be the biggest construction undertaking in Western New York history but alongside it, the team's longtime home, Orchard Park is hoping to attract other development with the Bills nearly guaranteed to stay in town for at least 30 years.

There has been little economic development around the home of the Bills since its construction 50 years ago, but ever since Gov. Kathy Hochul made it clear the team would be staying put in December of 2021, talk of correcting that lack of development has flourished.

"If Orchard Park is their first choice, their only choice? It's Orchard Park," Governor Hochul said.

Added Orchard Park Town Supervisor Gene Majchrzak: "It's going to be a growing process. We have obviously never done this before."

Majchrzak has pitched having a hotel and additional restaurants near the new stadium, across from the current one on Abbott Road. He also said the Town Economic Development Committee has identified five rezoning areas near the new stadium, which could make building around the new stadium easier and more attractive.

The Bills have no commercial development plans of their own right now but have said they would be willing to work with developers.

"I'm not saying the business community is going to make an investment, it's just up to us to say that the town is not standing in your way," Orchard Park Town Councilmember Conor Flynn said.

A special "stadium district" is one proposal Councilmember Flynn has suggested and has received feedback from his colleagues. He also wants to prioritize mixed-use residential development to ensure there is year-round traffic and commerce in the area.

"We need to recognize that the area is substantially different in character relative to the rest of Orchard Park," Flynn said.

As our reporting on Patriot Place has shown, a stadium alone doesn't spur economic development with only 8 to 10 home games a year which is something Flynn and Majchrzak are well aware of but...

"I find it hard to believe that we're going to spend this much money on a facility and we're not going to use it year-round," said Majchrzak.

The other thought for potentially interested developers is to build it and people would come. The Bills have said the new stadium will have more event space, so while this conversation will continue even after the groundbreaking of the new stadium, 2 On Your Side asked Flynn and Majchrzak after a year of discussion if any progress had been made.

The Supervisor said: "Absolutely."

Flynn: "At this point, there is movement to move this ball forward."


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