Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sen. Schumer a key addition to Bills' Working Group


More than a month ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced five of his picks to the New Stadium Working Group, a committee put forth to research the potential future of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Western New York.

This week, the team add their pieces to the puzzle, namely one heavy hitter.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon announced the team's seven choices to the now 19-member group Thursday, headlined by the appointment of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Schumer, a longtime proponent of the team staying in New York, is also quite chummy with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, who also hails from the area.

The senator told Graham Thursday that "there's no better way to honor Ralph Wilson’s legacy than by keeping the Bills in Buffalo," and that the team's significance in the region goes way beyond simple economic ties. 

"It’s not just the jobs and the people who come and the weekends in hotels,” he said. “It’s something intangible. It’s one of the things that Western New York identifies with, like cold winters and hard work. It’s part of our souls, and we can’t have it go away."

Rumors have swarmed since the signing of the new lease agreement in 2012 that the Bills would part ways from Buffalo after Wilson's passing via a buy-out option. Those rumors were put to rest this week via the Toronto Sun, who reported the team cannot be moved until that lease is up, which is in 2022. That, combined with Schumer's pull, gives the team a fighting chance at setting up a long-term commitment.

Brandon, one of the seven representing the team's interests on the group, said those picked "understand the impact of the team's relationship with the business community and the significance to all Western New Yorkers, particularly our fans."

The other five members added to the Working Group this week include Jeffrey C. Littman, the team's CFO; Mary Owen, executive vice president of strategic planning for the Bills; Christopher H. Koch, CEO of the hat company New Era; Louis P. Ciminelli, chairman of LPCiminelli Inc.; and Jordan Levy, managing partner of SoftBank Capital.

Eric County added its seven representatives earlier this month.

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