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Erie County Legislature holding 3 public hearings next month to discuss location of new Buffalo Bills stadium

Discussions about City of Buffalo location or staying in Orchard Park near existing stadium

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Where should the new Buffalo Bills stadium be built? The Erie County Legislature wants to hear your thoughts.

The Erie County Legislature will be holding three public hearings in December, all of which will be open to the public. All Western New Yorkers are encouraged to attend and speak their mind about a potential new location and possible construction costs for taxpayers of a new Bills stadium. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those who plan on attending the public hearings will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

The first meeting will be held on Monday, December 6 at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place in Buffalo at the Erie Community College City Campus in the auditorium located in the old post office building.

The second meeting will take place the following day on Tuesday, December 7 at 6 p.m. This meeting will be held in Williamsville at the Erie Community College North Campus in the Auditorium located in Gleasner Hall (adjacent to Youngs Road).

And the third meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 8 at 6 p.m. in Orchard Park at the Erie Community College South Campus. The meeting will take place in the room 5102, which is the lecture hall located in building five.

The Buffalo Common Council also wants to hear what people think about this. On Tuesday, November 9 at 5:30 p.m., Buffalo Common Council will host a special public hearing about the location of the new Bills stadium. Back in October, the council unanimously passed a resolution in support of a downtown stadium.

That hearing will include a presentation from Ben Siegel who is leading the Bills in Buffalo group. They have prepared studies on site location, parking, and other factors to make their case that the stadium should be located near the Cobblestone District between South Park and the 190 Expressway. They also came up with some preliminary drawings to show what a stadium at that location might look like.    

"The opportunity for economic growth is a lot better than in Orchard Park. When you think about the retail, hotels and restaurants, you can't quadruple the sales tax in Orchard Park as opposed to Buffalo,” said Buffalo Common Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt.

But the key participant who represents local government in the negotiations is not taking part in any of those hearings. . Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz spoke with reporters Friday morning. He said "I have no intention of attending the hearings and giving an update on where our negotiations are. It does not benefit us to negotiate in public..to lay our cards on the table"

And Poloncarz was asked about the idea of city officials and Buffalo residents having a new interest in the stadium concept. He replied this way, "If the city wants a seat at the table as part of the negotiations between the county, the state, and the Bills, they're gonna have to contribute financially if they feel that they deserve to have a seat at the table if the stadium is going to be in Buffalo."

Poloncarz did say the city site is still in the mix with Orchard Park for the discussions.  

When asked for reaction to the County Executive's comments, a spokesman said Mayor Brown would like to see what is presented at the Council meeting. They would not say anything about an additional financial commitment on the part of the city. Councilman Wyatt also said he would need to discuss that with his Council colleagues.

2 On Your Side also reached out to Orchard Park Supervisor - Elect Eugene Majchrzak since a new stadium could also be located on part of the ECC South campus across Abbott Road from the current Highmark Stadium. That is reportedly the preferred option for the team with a lower cost for the stadium. There is also existing infrastructure like their team offices, practice facilities, and the Bills fieldhouse 

Majchrzak says his community would obviously want to keep the Bills. They have requested to meet with the team but so far nothing has been arranged. 

Majchrzak says currently the only cost they have for the Bills stadium is police protection estimated at about $120,000 dollars per season with eight home games. Also any arrests for unruly fans are handled through the town court.

There have been some initial discussions of potential nearby development ideas but nothing is in the works at this time. 

Poloncarz said again today that the major points in the stadium discussions could be agreed upon by the end of this year with work on the final details of the contract in early 2022. He says the actual lease for the Bills runs through May of 2023.