Official Says Bills, Sabres "Up Against It" With Decisions On Future Venues
Pegula Sports & Entertainment COO Bruce Popko said that the expiring leases for New Era Field and KeyBank Center have added "pressure to the information-gathering effort needed to make big decisions in the near future," according to a front-page piece by Tan & Epstein of the BUFFALO NEWS. The New Era Field lease agreement expires in '23 and the lease for KeyBank Center expires in '25. Popko: "We have some more time, but we are up against it. We are now to the phase where we have to begin to make some determinations because five years goes really in the blink of an eye." Tan & Epstein note changes could "range from new seating, technology, video screens and audio systems to revamped food service and more specialized programming." Popko said, "We know we’ve got to improve the fan experience." As far as potential sites for any new stadium, including the possibility of combining a Bills stadium with a new convention center, Popko said that "nothing is off the table." He added, "We don’t go into it with any preconceived notions." Popko said PS&E was asked by ownership consultant CAA Icon to "really have as open a mind as we can, and we're going into this exercise like that" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/28).
LOCAL SUPPORT? In Buffalo, James Fink wrote with PS&E in the "initial phases of development or renovations options for New Era Field and KeyBank Center and an Erie County study underway on the need for a new downtown convention center, the question becomes will state leaders be willing to write a series of big checks to help finance the projects?" Local leaders may be "forced to address the state support issue for all three projects within the next year." The cases for the convention center, "rehabbing KeyBank Center and renovating or building a new football stadium are individually and collectively strong, each come with well-documented returns on their respective investments." Visit Buffalo Niagara President & CEO Patrick Kaler said, "That there could be multiple ‘big ticket’ asks being made to Albany at the same time is a concern" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/27).
CLEAR AS THE DRIVEN SNOW: In Rochester, Leo Roth writes under the header, "As Sure As The Snow Blows Off Lake Erie, A Bills Downtown Stadium Is A Lock." Bills co-Owners Terry and Kim Pegula "don’t do anything small, so forget remodeling an old house." A new downtown stadium, projected to cost $1B, would be a "coup de grace on their Buffalo renaissance, which includes HarborCenter," their $200M hockey facility. The Pegulas already "own land on potential stadium sites and parking lots in the burgeoning Cobblestone Entertainment District." Fan input is "welcomed," but there is "no stopping a new stadium from happening." Roth: "And yes, a dome is on the table" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 11/28).