Let’s summarize the recent developments regarding the Bills’ stadium situation. First, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed five members of a committee that will explore building a new football stadium in Buffalo. Second, the Bills don’t want a new stadium; they want to modernize the one they currently play in.
It’s a stunning disconnect for a team with a lease buyout that plummets in six years from $400 million to $28 million. After reading a full analysis of the situation from the Buffalo News, we have a theory. Or a hypothesis. Or at least a spitball.
That looming dip in the obligation to permit a relocation could be driving the political effort to explore the construction of a new stadium. Given that Ralph Wilson’s family will sell the franchise once its 95-year-old founder passes and in light of the possibility that the highest bidder will want to move the team to L.A. or London or elsewhere, the politicians need to be able to say they tried their best to keep the team in Buffalo.
What better way to commence the process of covering keisters than to form a committee that will spend the next few years spinning its wheels on the potential but fiscally impractical construction of a new stadium the franchise doesn’t want?
If the powers-that-be were serious about finding a way to keep the Bills in Buffalo, they’d be working to come up with the kind of solution the team prefers, instead of plotting to build a stadium the team doesn’t want. The failure of the two sides to be on the same page on such a key point suggests that the elected officials understand how this is going to play out, and that they want to position themselves as being able to say they tried to do everything they could to keep the team in Buffalo.
The fact that the politicians aren’t talking about finding a way to upgrade the stadium also suggests that they aren’t truly interested in actually doing what needs to be done to keep the team in town — but that they simply don’t want to be the ones blamed for the Bills’ eventual departure.
And if a new stadium is viable and the Bills are resisting simply because they realize a new owner will want to move the team when the buyout drops by $372 million, the Bills don’t want to be blamed for the eventual departure, either.