No sooner had we gotten used to the prospect of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson demanding public money for a renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium than suddenly there’s talk of building a new downtown stadium for the Bills. Though how you define “talk” depends on how far you read down through this news item from WKBW-TV:
Plans for a New Stadium in Downtown Buffalo Emerge
Okay, that sounds clear enough from the headline. What does the lede of the story say?
Could a new stadium be heading to the Queen City? It’s a proposal that’s being discussed inside city hall.
“Inside city hall” — so presumably either the mayor or the city council is on board with this. Sounds serious.
Mix 1080 AM WUFO Sports Director Patrick Freeman says he has a plan to bring a new multi-use stadium to the heart of downtown Buffalo and presented his ideas to the Buffalo Common Council Tuesday.
Wait, what? A local radio sports director said at a city council hearing that a downtown stadium would be a good idea, and that’s your idea of “discussions inside city hall”?
It does sound like councilmembers took Freeman’s suggestions seriously, or at least politely — one said that this “could be, oh, something that could help us save face from all the mistakes that have been made in the past in the city of Buffalo, you know, moving stadiums into Orchard Park.” But with no funding or site identified, and no price tag even, it’s a little bit, shall we say, premature to even call this a “plan.”
What this does mean, though, is that we’re potentially moving from debating whether New York state should fund $100 million in stadium renovations to debating how to choose between spending on renovations or spending on a whole new building. Somewhere, Ralph Wilson has to be smiling.