SBD/May 27, 2014/Facilities

Prospective Sites For New Bills Stadium Begin To Emerge, But Financing Remains A Concern

Ralph Wilson Stadium's location will be considered for a new stadium
It is widely believed that the Bills a decade from now will be "in a new home," and that "sets in motion an entirely new sport known as the location guessing game," according to McCarthy & Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. Site selection experts over the past few days have "scouted land around the Central Terminal, downtown sites and the outer harbor" in Buffalo. Meanwhile, top officials like County Exec Mark Poloncarz are "insisting that the current stadium, or at least its county-owned footprint, figures prominently in the discussions." L.A.-based AECOM, hired by the state to assist in the site search, "began visiting possible stadium locations earlier this month." A source said that before the process is "completed by mid-July ... three to five sites in and around downtown Buffalo will be vetted." It is expected that "at least one -- and possibly two -- Buffalo locations will qualify for the final round of stadium locations the firm will recommend to the state and future owners." The source "cautioned that the work will also include a plan to either renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium or build a new facility in Orchard Park." The group "has yet to explore three to four sites outside of Buffalo and is fielding suggestions from politicians, developers and even fans." The possibilities "are many, such as a retractable stadium tied to a convention center." Proximity to mass transit "also enters the discussions." Meanwhile, how much land is needed for a new stadium "depends on whether a suburban or urban site is considered" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/27).

PLENTY OF HURDLES TO OVERCOME: In Buffalo, Tom Precious notes AECOM will be "looking at local land-use laws, zoning analyses, market and financial feasibility, as well as traffic planning, cost estimates and potential environmental regulatory hurdles." While AECOM will "look at a dozen or so sites, the contract calls for the firm to identify three, and no more than four, sites in a final report due by July 11." New York state "envisions the firm’s work being used to help the state, as well as future team owners, guide future decisions about a new stadium" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/27). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said that he "believes it’s 'possible' a new stadium might have to be built to ensure that the Buffalo Bills remain in Western New York." But he added that if "such a project is required, his first objective would be find a way to minimize the government’s financial role." Cuomo "conceded that it could be a heavy lift if construction of a new stadium would require the state to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to the project." Cuomo said that while the state has "helped to build stadiums in downstate New York ... coming up with another huge pot of state money for a project in the Buffalo region would likely face some obstacles" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/24).
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