Yet another ugly issue has reared its head, as it seems to do every week this offseason. The Pegulas’ initial stadium budget proposal has gone about as well as you could imagine. Billionaires asking for money never looks good. Their initial request for New York State to foot the entire bill for the project might have gone better… if it weren’t for the implied threat lain down against the people of the Buffalo area. The mere acknowledgment that other markets could, and would, be willing to pay handsomely for an NFL team struck a chord with Bills fans. And it is clearly a point of leverage against the people who want Buffalo’s team to stay in Orchard Park. The whole situation is a bit of a mess right now, so let’s get into it, shall we?
The New Stadium
It’s inevitable now that the Buffalo Bills will be playing in a new stadium within the next few years. Regardless of how you feel about leaving “The Ralph” behind, it’s time to say goodbye and get into the business of building a new stadium. It would most likely be located on the lot adjacent to the current stadium. The old grounds would likely be demolished to make way for a new parking lot. This would recreate the beloved gameday tailgate experience that we all know and love. These two factors are considered priorities for Bills fans everywhere.
Many fans also opposed a dome, as playing in the elements has become a staple for Buffalonians. However, some protection from the great outdoors would be a requirement for a new proposal to pass, as the NFL would likely exert some influence on the matter. The compromise would likely come in the form of an overhang (see Miami) to give fans some degree of coverage. Per BF contributor Mitch Broder, fan entertainment and interactivity would also likely be implemented along with generic cosmetic improvements (better food, bathrooms, etc) in line with other recent stadium builds.
The Proposal Breakdown
The Pegulas are completely out of touch; that much is clear based on the content of their proposal for the new stadium plan. It may be a common negotiating tactic to start extremely high so that you have something to concede, but requesting that the State of New York cover 100% of their $1.5 billion stadium plan ($1.1B for the new Bills stadium, and $400M for a revival project of the KeyBank Center, where the Buffalo Sabres play) shows a distinct lack of respect for the bargaining game they’re playing. This proposal will be rejected by the State and a counteroffer will be tabled, but we can realistically expect taxpayers to foot between 40-70% of the bill, like recent NFL stadiums such as U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)?
The real issue with their proposal had nothing to do with the money, however, as they included a thinly veiled threat to move the team out of Buffalo if their demands weren’t met. Information from PSE cites Austin, Texas as the “most likely” relocation point. The idea that the owners are holding the team for ransom over a new stadium has Bills fans reeling.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We do have some cause for celebration though. The Austin City Council has since confirmed that they have not had any contact with PSE nor any NFL-related organizations whatsoever. Still, the threat stings. And it will be a situation to monitor as the lengthy process of bargaining, planning, breaking ground, and, eventually, building a new stadium in Orchard Park begins. Nothing is guaranteed until pens are put to paper, but the negotiations will likely take 1-2 years with construction adding another 2-4 on top of that. So if you want to make a few more fantastic Bills memories at our long-time home, act fast. The window is closing rapidly.