Monday, February 10, 2014

First step taken in process for new Bills stadium


It's taken more than a year, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has finally made a move in fulfilling his promise to the Buffalo Bills faithful.

The governor announced the first steps toward the possibility of new stadium in Buffalo Monday, an idea he said he'd consider when the team signed a 10-year lease and decided to Band-Aid the Ralph with a $130 million renovation project back in December of 2012.

Those steps include the announcement of five members to a potentially 21-person committee that will "explore options or development and construction of a new stadium in Western New York to serve as a home for the Bills," according to one of Cuomo's advisers and reported by The Buffalo News.

The New Stadium Working Group, which was announced at the time of the lease signing, now consists of a number of state and local policymakers including  Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, state Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Empire State Development President Kenneth Adams and Buffalo Niagara Partnership CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen.

One unnamed N.Y. official said "the sooner we get started, the better," calling the appointments an obvious move to help keep the Bills in Western New York while also bringing a "world-class facility" into the area for "other entertainment ideas."

It's nice to finally see some initiative taken in regards to a up-to-date, long-term home for the team, though whether this move is simply Cuomo saving face on a public promise he made remains to be seen. As the News pointed out, Ralph Wilson Stadium will be 50 years old by the time its lease is up, making it seemingly inevitable that either a stadium will be built or the team will hit the bricks and move out (if it hasn't happened already).

The interesting thing here is that the state, Erie County and the Bills all can add up to seven people to this "Working Group," and we're curious to see just who the team decides will be the face of its push for some new digs. It's also in the county's best interest to push for a legit venue to help bring in some tourism for non-football affairs like concerts and other sporting events (Winter Classic anyone?), though getting taxpayer approval for big-dollar stadium plans hasn't been easy of late.

The governor called for a meeting to be held "within the next two weeks" on the topic, giving each part of the Working Group little time to put together their nominees.

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