Critics Curse $600 Million From State For Bills Stadium That’s Not Even In Buffalo

Bestinau got that-

Former state officials who worked under ex-governor. Cuomo Andrew Cuomo fired successor Kathy Hochul because he agreed to give the owners of the Buffalo Bills $600 million in taxpayer money to build a new stadium that won’t even be built in New York’s second-largest city.

A state official familiar with preliminary discussions for a new Bills’ stadium said Cuomo wanted it built in the city of Buffalo as part of urban regeneration rather than suburban Orchard Park, where the current stadium is located.

“We wouldn’t have made a deal with a stadium in the suburbs. It had to be downtown Buffalo,” said a former Cuomo official familiar with the discussions.

The source said building a new Bills’ stadium in the city would have justified the state in paying the infrastructure costs — but providing $600 million in state dollars plus another $250 million from the county for Bills owners to build his facility in the suburbs, a goalpost was too far.

“We would never have given that much. The deal makes no sense,” said the former state official, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.

“I believe in civic pride. But $600 million is far too high a price to pay for civic pride,” said the Cuomo insider. “That is too large a number. It does not generate any economic activity.”

Governor Kathy Hochul’s has said the economic impact of the stadiums will help the state immensely.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

But a spokesperson for the Bills owner, Pegula Sports Entertainment, slammed the former state officials for undue rudeness to Hochul and the Bills.

“This is 100% not true. Never raised. This was never mentioned [by Cuomo]Pegula Sports Entertainment spokesman Jim Wilkinson said when asked by The Post if Cuomo was pushing for a stadium in downtown Buffalo.

An independent analysis commissioned by Empire State Development concluded that a stadium in downtown Buffalo would have cost up to $450 million more than the new Orchard Park Stadium — and would have relocated up to 3,000 residents and businesses.

During a debate last year, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the cost of a city stadium seemed prohibitive and that he was not campaigning to move the Bills there.

But other experts who research stadium subsidies also agreed with the criticism.

“I could justify the government funding if they revive the city of Buffalo,” Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, told The Post.

Rosentraub was working on financing the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium.

“Had this been in Downtown Buffalo I would have been very interested in defending it. I’m just disappointed it’s not,” he said, adding that this seems like a giveaway.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo
Former officials said ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo wanted the new stadium built in the city of Buffalo.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The new $1.1 billion UBS Islanders hockey arena next to Belmont Park in Elmont was privately funded, although the state provided $74 million for a new LIRR station in Elmont near the arena.

Other Albany insiders said it was rich for Cuomo’s camp to claim the main road to the stadium — pointing to his Buffalo Billion economic bidding fraud and corruption scandal that led to convictions of his closest confidant, Joe Percoco, and chief economic development officer, Alain Kaloyeros.

Cuomo’s upstate economic development program was widely regarded as a failure.

Hochul defended the stadium deal as sound.

“I went into these negotiations and tried to answer three questions – how long can we hold?
the Bills in Buffalo, how can we make sure this project benefits the hard-working men and women of western New York and how can we get the best deal for taxpayers?” Hochul said Monday.

“I am pleased that after months of negotiations we have come up with the best possible answers – the bills will remain in Buffalo for another 30 years, the project will create 10,000 union jobs and New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the
economic activity that the team generates.”

She said the Bills franchise is a proven economic engine for the Buffalo region and the state. The accounts generate $27 million annually in direct income, sales and use taxes for New York State, Erie County, and Buffalo. Revenues will generate more than $1.6 billion over the
Rental period of 30 years.

Tom Suozzi
Tom Suozzi called the deal a taxpayer scam.
Matthew McDermott

In addition, fans attending games from all over New York, the United States and Canada spend money locally that would not otherwise be spent in the region, resulting in an annual economic activity of $385 million.

One of Hochul’s Democratic primary opponents, Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, tore up Bills’ stadium deal as a taxpayer scam.

Suozzi, who complained about the high taxes and rising crime in New York, said, “And what does the governor do? She proposes the most lucrative stadium deal in NFL history—four days before the state budget is due after secret negotiations and expects it to be rammed through at the last minute as part of backroom bills.

“It’s no wonder our state is in so much trouble. It’s no wonder we have the highest taxes in America, the worst business environment in America, people struggling to pay their utility bills and their tax bills, a crime crisis spiraling out of control. And this is a pattern and practice of this governor.”

Suozzi said there should be public hearings on the stadium deal.

— Additional reporting by Maggie Hicks

Leave a Comment