Erie County executive says a deal will get done for new Bills stadium, but it must be a “fair deal for all”

Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
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The future of the Bills in Buffalo became slightly less clear on Sunday, when the Buffalo News reported that owners of the team want a new stadium to be funded entirely by taxpayer money. On Wednesday, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz tried to take some steam out of the situation — with an important caveat.

“We will get a deal done,” Poloncarz said, via “It’s just got to be a fair deal for all.”

Poloncarz said, both verbally and on Twitter, that the team has not threatened to move if their requests aren’t met.

“I want the public to understand there’s been no gun put to the head of Erie County and New York state stating, ‘If you do not do this, we are moving,'” Poloncarz said. “I want people to understand negotiations are a long process. . . . A negotiation takes time. It takes compromise on both sides.”

In fairness to the Buffalo News, it didn’t report that threats had been made. It reported that, during the discussions that have occurred to date, representatives of the Bills have not made any threats but have “made clear to government negotiators that there are other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it.”

Yes, that’s how negotiations happen. To get whatever the Bills want (or to even get close to it), they need leverage. Without the express or implicit suggestion that there’s an “or else” in the equation, they won’t get what they want.

For the city, the county, and the state, paying the full price of the stadium surely doesn’t amount to a “fair deal.” The question becomes whether the bottom line for the team intersects with the bottom line for the politicians.

But here’s the most important reality. The fact that the issue has emerged puts any and all other cities on notice of an opportunity to cobble together a package that could be sufficiently better than what can or will be offered in Buffalo. If the best offer from another city is close to the best offer from Buffalo, presumably the team would stay put. If the gap is so big that it can’t objectively be ignored, that becomes a potential problem.

For now, it’s unknown whether another city will make the Pegulas an offer they can’t or won’t refuse. What is known, however, is that there’s a reason for a city that believes having an NFL team unlocks a higher degree or tax revenue or status or whatever to start crunching numbers. That’s how Las Vegas got the Raiders from Oakland. That’s how Baltimore got the Ravens (Browns) from Cleveland. That’s how Indianapolis got the Colts from Baltimore.

That’s how it works. And while it’s premature to spot a viable alternative destination for the Bills, it’s not premature to wonder whether a viable alternative will emerge before the Bills sign off on whatever the best offer is that can be made in their current location.

25 responses to “Erie County executive says a deal will get done for new Bills stadium, but it must be a “fair deal for all”

  1. I think I hear San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake starting to drool. The people of Buffalo are on notice.

  2. Love the Bills. But the writing has been on the wall ever since the first billion dollar dome was built. There’s just not that kind of dough in Buffalo. EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE THE ONLY TEAM THE NFL HAS PLAYING IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK. So c’mon NY step in please before TORONTO does.

  3. A fair deal for all would be 0% taxpayer funded, 100% billionaire team owner funded!

  4. Somehow it’s been overlooked that the Pegula’s cannot move the Bills from the area. In an article in the Buffalo News from April 13, 2014, it states that as a goodbye gift to the people of Buffalo, Ralph Wilson(seeing what was happening leaguewide) put a “poison Pill” in the terms of the sale of the team. It is contractual, and to move, the owner of the team must pay a huge fine to Erie County($400million)(which isn’t as big a price tag now as back then), but the killer is, they have to pay any and all legal costs for any lawsuit filed to keep them. I’m sure that bill will be at least a billion, if not more. They will hire the best(most expensive) lawyers on Earth and let them name their fee. It will be a team of hundreds, with billable hours in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. If the Dome Stadium lawsuit is any indication(about 30 years to settle), no community will be able to foot that bill. They are staying put. No Bills move. I believe Mark Vaughn, Jerry Zmersky and another writer got the byline.

  5. Western NY knows the Pegulas.
    This is Kim Pegulas home town, and they invest to “make a difference”in WNY with the profits from a hugely successful business.
    This is not Al Davis or Stan Kronke here. The Pegulas are great people with a conscience, whose legacy is something they are investing in.
    A deal will get done, and it will be fair for all.

  6. The media, including this site, latched onto the Bills intital offer like it was some sort of shock wave. It’s a nothing burger. Same with Seth Wickersham’s rumor about moving to Austin. Another nothing burger. The county exec is right, negotiations take time and both sides will give but at the end of the day a deal will be done

  7. Best said the owner is not Stan Kronke. That said politicians, activists (think Amazon in NYC) and self serving media people can screw up anything. Reality is Western NY needs the Bills, please do not screw it up.

  8. When i think of the really big names who have made the NFL what it is today….I think of Kim Pegula…..said nobody ever

  9. a fair deal would be… those that are going to make money off the stadium should pay for the stadium.

  10. I got a kick out of Kim Pegula saying she and her husband just can’t afford to fund a new stadium. I checked out their net worth on Forbes website, and, gosh, I guess she’s right. Their fortune in 2020 was a lousy 5.4 billion dollars. OMG, that’s only $1,000,000 (million) multipled by 5400! OR to put it in real numbers: $5,400,000,000.

    To put this in perspective, the Raiders’ new stadium cost $1.9 billion.

    I feel sorry for the Pegulas and sure hope all the good taxpayers of Buffalo put aside at least 20% of their food, gas, and mortgage or rent budgets to help pay every penny for a new stadium so Kim and Terry won’t have to suffer!

  11. To the owners, a “fair deal for all” would be – they don’t have to pay for the stadium, and Buffalo gets to keep its team.

    I don’t understand why negotiations don’t start here: if they move the team, the Pegulas will have to pay at least $650 million as a relocation fee to the other owners. So that’s the starting point of their end of the deal – they have to contribute AT LEAST $650 million to the stadium.

    Or, if the taxpayers pay the full amount, then the taxpayers should be the only ones getting revenues from the stadium. Why should communities hand billionaires free stadiums and then get nothing from it?

  12. 25% of Citi Field was paid by Mets and rest was funded by government. 33% of Yankee stadium was paid by Yankees and the rest was funded by government. The Pegula’s are asking for a comparable deal which is reasonable. All talk of relocation is basic negotiating. The Bills are not going anywhere except to the Super Bowl.

  13. It’s kind of simple:

    You own the team – and it’s a business – your business. You want a new stadium. The stadium cost 500 million to build.

    1. You can pay for it yourself.
    2. The state can pay for it.
    3. You and the state can negotiate a deal and split the cost.

    But then, a fourth option enters:

    4. A new city calls you and says “move here and we’ll pay for it all – whatever you want – and we’ll kick in some nice tax incentives as well.”

    Again – it’s your money, your business – what are you going to do? #4 looks mighty nice, doesn’t it?

    It’s just the reality of the situation – and believe me, I know – I was a Baltimore Colts fan. There’s not much room for tradition and sentiment when millions – if not billions – of dollars are involved.

  14. Everyone slamming the Bills, listen up… There was a proposal for a waterfront stadium in downtown that was privately funded… It would have been a multi use complex also used as a convention center and a museum as well. The local government rejected the project because they didn’t want to build the roads needed and extend the rail transportation to support it. The local government did this to themselves, it’s almost like they want the stadium to be state owned.

  15. IF the Bills want the taxpayers to fund a new stadium, the Bills should make the taxpayers part-owners, with the yearly profits going back to the taxpayers.

  16. Buffalo is screwed.

    The way other places pay is to tax tourism not the locals. For an example New Orleans if you visit the tax to build and maintain the dome is in the hotel bill the state really doesn’t pay that bill.

    Buffalo doesn’t have that option the locals are paying for it.

  17. They need to look at Robert Kraft and how Gillette was built. The land, stadium, facilities and parking lots all paid for privately (no public money). The infrastructure cost were/are paid back to the public.

  18. One big issue not mentioned; for any other city to make a proposal, they too have to go through the, who the heck will pay for this discussion and have pre approval for the money.
    In other cases of teams leaving, it was the owners who wanted out and made horrendous or zero demands.
    I dont see that or hear that in this case.

  19. If everyone is being honest….the whole western part of New York State is the most liveable and sane part of the New York State.

  20. But all of us delusional fans have been told that the buff is the only place the bills will ever want to be. Don’t tell me that we’ve been jumping through burning tables all these years for nothing.

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