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Bills stadium committee could be advance political cover for inevitable move

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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.

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38 Responses to “Bills stadium committee could be advance political cover for inevitable move”
  1. thevikesarebest says: Feb 16, 2014 1:45 PM

    The vikings will always have the best stadium.#modelfranchise

  2. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Feb 16, 2014 1:46 PM

    This is getting ridicoulous. The Commish makes $44 million a year so there’s no telling how much the owners clear and they still strong hand their communities into paying for their stadiums. If they want public money let them walk.

  3. bobgriffinthe3rd says: Feb 16, 2014 1:47 PM

    the vikings fans will make their mating calls soon

  4. ralphwilsonisrich says: Feb 16, 2014 1:48 PM

    There are major renovations going on right now at the Ralph. Still has great sidelines and alot better that that stadium sitting in Mission Valley for the Chargers.

  5. marvsleezy says: Feb 16, 2014 1:49 PM

    The politicians are not trying to upgrade the stadium at this time because they are in the middle of a $130 million dollar renovation.

    This information is available via google.

    Why would you put any more than that into such an old stadium?

    Obviously the owner is too old to be involved in building a new stadium he wont be around to see.

    So, the state is trying to get things in order for the NEW owner.

  6. nublar7 says: Feb 16, 2014 1:50 PM

    Toronto*

  7. iamthegreatcornflorio says: Feb 16, 2014 1:50 PM

    No surprise here. The NY democratic party machine will burn many millions of taxpayers’ dollars along the way.

  8. golforepar says: Feb 16, 2014 1:56 PM

    Please don’t seek advice from the Vikings!

  9. harvestern says: Feb 16, 2014 1:59 PM

    The reason that they are not focused on stadium upgrades is because they just started 180 million in upgrades, which includes a second scoreboard, bathroom facility and concession upgrades, a fan Plaza and a new store. The next logical step is to format a committee to see what can be done when lease expires.

  10. bigbosscrispy says: Feb 16, 2014 2:01 PM

    Football & politics, what a wonderful mixture…..

  11. bsizemore68 says: Feb 16, 2014 2:04 PM

    Sure, and if the republicans were the major party machine they would be doing the same, look fool, they all do the same, got it. You got to love how the republicans always bring in politics with football and always got to go liberal crazy when things don’t go there way. Bill

  12. toddsage1billsfan says: Feb 16, 2014 2:15 PM

    If the Western New York and state politicians let the Bills relocate, they won’t be able to frame their departure in a positive light because they won’t have jobs.

  13. timpiker says: Feb 16, 2014 2:17 PM

    Advice to Buffalo – don’t spend your money on subsidizing these billionaires and millionaires.

    If they threaten to leave – let ‘em go!

    Signed – Browns Fan

  14. r8drn8tn says: Feb 16, 2014 2:30 PM

    As a fan whose team has moved twice and might move again it infuriates me to no end. All of the owners and the commish are good capitalists but they believe they are entitled to tax payer money to fund their “nonprofit” organization. This is shameful, develop the markets you are in. I would be or will be outraged if the Bills leave Buffalo.

    These greedy bastards are ruining the game for a cash grab. 18 games? Nobody wants that. A team in LA? They won’t support it. A team in London? WTF????

    It might be good now while the cash is flowing but sooner or later they are going to kill the golden goose.

  15. gf2711 says: Feb 16, 2014 2:56 PM

    There is no incentive for the current Bills ownership to want a new stadium. As soon as Ralph is gone, I’m sure Russ Brandon is out the door too with new ownership in.

    They pay extremely cheap rent and they just got tax payer dollars to redo their fan shop and other things… all to further increase their current revenue model.

    The current front office won’t waste their time with it because ultimately they’ll have nothing to do with it.

  16. questionableprovenance says: Feb 16, 2014 2:59 PM

    And NY will then be left with no NFL teams.

  17. JackedUpSports says: Feb 16, 2014 3:23 PM

    as bad as they’ve been, dont move the bills

  18. naes says: Feb 16, 2014 3:23 PM

    It would make sense to move the Bills to LA of/when a London team becomes a reality. The London team goes to the AFC East with the Jets, Pats and Dolphins.

  19. EJ says: Feb 16, 2014 3:24 PM

    The team will not be leaving Buffalo. Ralph Wilson’s family wants nothing to do with the team once Ralph leaves this world, so I am sure he already has something planned out with someone, whether it is Golasano, Kelly & Company or Bon Jovi. Whoever buys the team will keep them right in Buffalo, where they belong. I’d be really shocked if it went any other way. Wilson knows what this team means to the people of Buffalo and Western NY. Don’t look too deep into it, you’d be wasting your time. In Buffalo they will stay.

  20. barrywhererufrom says: Feb 16, 2014 3:39 PM

    Governor Cuomo is a snake. It really is sickening that the great fans of the Bills would have to go through this stuff. Unbelievable..

  21. jfiling says: Feb 16, 2014 3:58 PM

    It’s really easy to see. Cuomo wants to see how much money he can offer to “contractors” (aka political contributors and cronies) and then drum up support to build the thing. It’s a power play.

  22. mackcarrington says: Feb 16, 2014 3:58 PM

    Upgrading the current stadium is more feasible and palatable to the taxpayers of WNY. I don’t think the fans of the Bills care about luxury suites
    and they certainly don’t want to deal with PSL’s.
    Lambeau Field is nearly 100 years old and they’ve done just fine with their renovations. All Bills fans really want is what they are getting now: More restrooms and concession space. The real sign that the Bills want to leave town will come when they no longer attempt to bring in quality players and stop trying to win games. I was still living in Buffalo when their NBA franchise did just that. The attendance fell off, and that gave them the “out” to leave town.

  23. joeloj says: Feb 16, 2014 4:02 PM

    I would stick to reporting news. The state of ny is laying the groundwork now for when a new owner comes in, if that owner wants a new stadium -which is likely- they will be ready.

  24. cowboysfaninbuffalove says: Feb 16, 2014 4:03 PM

    The Bills will never be successful again in Buffalo, The fans love to settle for mediocracy and that is exactly what the Bills front office strives for. But the Bills fans are not smart enough to realize it. Every year in Buffalo all I hear is “this is our year” “playoffs is guaranteed” Well we’ve been waiting since 99 to see the playoffs

  25. Ed Bandell says: Feb 16, 2014 4:07 PM

    EJ,

    Money talks. If the grass looks greener somewhere else with a nice healthy new stadium, a starving fanbase that will support the team and also probably forget a lot of the baggage, and the owner can thus make more money off the team not only per season, but down the road when they sell it off….you better believe they are going to do it.

    I bet there are people that don’t even know the only team that is ACTUALLY in New York is the Bills. Some people probably don’t even know that Buffalo is in New York.

  26. Robert says: Feb 16, 2014 4:19 PM

    Toronto Bills 2015.

  27. lanman11 says: Feb 16, 2014 5:03 PM

    Wilson should write into his will that the Bills must play in Buffalo, or they must pay an unfathomable fee per game to play elsewhere. Kind of like a poison pill that makes the whole idea of moving preposterous.

    Not a fan but I hate seeing franchises like the Rams, Oiler’s, Colt’s, Browns, Cardinal’s and even the Raider’s move. In each case, the root of the problem was highly ineffective management and political corruption. Maybe the league should interfere with how these teams are being run before allowing the move, though I realize they can’t keep the teams from moving. There is something about moving franchises that cheapens the value of the league.

  28. upstaterules says: Feb 16, 2014 5:09 PM

    They aren’t leaving Buffalo. It would be a huge public relation disaster for the NFL and subject the league to anti-trust laws.

    Buffalo actually has a large TV market; Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Hamilton, Southern Ontario and the Southern Tier of NYS. They won’t charge the un-Godly prices for tickets like other cities in the NFL. The NFL has gotten out of control in Dallas, NYC, Wash… with PSL’s and high ticket prices. The NFL’s bread and butter are the TV contracts.

    Frankly, watching a game at the Ralph is a ton of fun and there is not a bad seat in the stadium.

    The assessment of NYS politicians is correct, but they will not let this team leave WNY. That is a lot of tax money for Tamady Hall!!!

  29. chrisk61 says: Feb 16, 2014 5:29 PM

    when discussing a team’s fortunes, its path to improvement and the playoffs, one must first look at their division. new eng may be in a slow decline. brady is getting old and once he is over the hill, new eng will no longer dominate. mia isn’t ready for prime time yet. they blew an easy chance to make playoffs when they couldn’t win at buff or vs jets. and now their off line is in shambles, which won’t be fixed over nite. jets might improve. 8-8 was a good yr for them. but is geno smith the guy. buff has a shot with a healthy ej manuel and good defense. they really do. but manuel has to stay healthy.

  30. mkos4513 says: Feb 16, 2014 5:31 PM

    I know this will never happen but, maybe the NFL owners should set up a stadium fund (like the old Christmas clubs). Then, whenever a new stadium needs to be built the league can lend out the money for the stadium or they could build and lease it to the team.

  31. mayfieldroadboy says: Feb 16, 2014 5:59 PM

    As long as public money is used to fund these stadiums, they should never be allowed to move from the cities and/or states that fund them.

    Public money is tax money. Why should my tax dollars permit some billionaire to move my team to another city and be able to suck tax money from their new-found crop of suckers.

    MY tax dollars; MY team. Taxed cities/states should be partners with these billionaire owners until all the tax money is repaid. Then the OWNERS can move THEIR teams anywhere THEY want.

  32. edwinmoses says: Feb 16, 2014 7:28 PM

    I understand there are rules against owning two pro teams in one market. W/ that said T. Pegula had gone on record saying he would step in if the Bills were in a threat to leave buffalo. I have faith in him and the group of investors w kelly. Pft I respect some of what u do but recognize u don’t kno the full story.

  33. usasaver says: Feb 16, 2014 9:37 PM

    Don’t expect Ralph Wilson to do anything to help his loyal fans keep this team, either now or after his demise. I go back many years to when the subject of building a replacement for what we called, “the old rockpile,” which was actually named, “War Memorial Stadium,” caused much disagreement throughout Western New York. The Erie County bigwigs proposed, and actually had financing committed for, a 55,000 seat DOMED stadium. Ralph Wilson greedily and uncaringly, insisted on an 80,000 seat stadium or said he’d take his team somewhere else. Now Buffalo is a blue collar town and had just lost or was about to lose Bethlehem Steel because of the intransigence of the USW forcing Bethlehem to make the decision to close. Now Ralph Wilson was putting Erie County up against the wall with his demands. They told him, “We can give you an
    80,000 seat stadium but it won’t be domed. We
    just can’t swing that and you know the winter conditions here.” Wilson said, “I’ll take the open air 80,000 seat stadium. Let the Buffalo fans put
    up with freezing if they want a team.” Well those
    fans have filled that stadium every game since
    regardless of how bad the weather was, whether the team was competitive or not, and made Mr.
    Wilson a very rich man. He has always played the “I’m going to move the team” card when he wanted any kind of improvement at the public’s
    expense, and he’ll keep on selfishly doing it until the day he dies. I left Buffalo in 1978 because I could no longer stand the cold, but I still love the people back there who are the friendliest people and certainly the most loyal sports fans anywhere
    in the country.

  34. wny49er says: Feb 17, 2014 8:41 AM

    The Bill’s mafia will lynch Gov Cuomo, Sen Schumer and Sen Gillibrand if that happens.

  35. jpaq68 says: Feb 17, 2014 8:57 AM

    marvsleezy says:
    Feb 16, 2014 1:49 PM

    So, the state is trying to get things in order for the NEW owner.

    I love to watch how far out on a limb delusional Bills fans will reach. The Bills will be moving to Los Angeles in eight years unless Old Man Wilson can avoid the big dirt nap until then.

    Maybe they ought to be putting their resources into finding a cure to being 95 years old instead of a committee for a new stadium.

  36. keepyerstickontheice says: Feb 17, 2014 11:30 AM

    The big question here is, if you are a cynical and corrupt politician, why would you need to provide political cover for an event that may or may not happen, long after you’re out of office anyway?

  37. idoubtiwillbother says: Feb 18, 2014 9:29 AM

    This is a solid hypothesis.

    Cuomo wants to do it because it will look good to have tried to take the long view, especially on a matter that will make him attractive to New York voters in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary. After 2016 he doesn’t give a hoot.

    Cuomo is stupid, filled with hubris, and plotting his move to be Hillary Clinton’s VP candidate if he doesn’t get the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016. Nothing he does should be considered as anything but an effort to buttress his national ambitions.

    The presence of Bob Duffy on that committee defines it as inconsequential. He is the single least powerful and least significant member of the executive branch of State government, and he is even more stupid than Cuomo.

  38. lanham4eve says: Feb 18, 2014 10:57 AM

    The super long lease agreement is so that a new owner can see that, despite playing in a small market, the bills can be a profitable franchise. The stadium regularly sells out despite mediocrity on the field, imagine what would happen if they were good… That’s the point of the lease.

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