New York state, as you may recall, recently gave $200 million to the Buffalo Bills for stadium renovations to keep them in town, then topped it off by creating a task force to plan how to build a whole new stadium to keep them in town even longer. And that task force is now considering keeping them in town by moving them to Niagara Falls:
Several officials told The Associated Press that a newly formed Bills stadium task force of public and private leaders seeking to bolster the team’s long-term viability is considering sites that would put it closer to the team’s burgeoning Ontario fan base.
“We’re looking at Niagara County,” Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy told the AP this week. “We’re open to looking at a number of venues.”
It makes sense at least to look, I guess: The Bills say about 18% of their season-ticket base comes from Canada (and presumably they’d like to increase that, since there are lot more people on the Ontario side of the border than in western New York), and Niagara County would split the driving distance for those folks. The bigger question is why New York is spending so much time and energy — and eventually money, since there’s almost no way the Bills are going to finance this project themselves — trying to placate the team’s as-yet-undetermined next owner (founding owner Ralph Wilson died last month) when they just got them to agree to a lease extension that—
The Bills are essentially locked into playing at their current home through the 2019 season, because the lease features a $400 million penalty in the event the team broke it. In 2020, the Bills have a one-time opportunity to opt out of the lease for about $28 million.
Really, Gov. Andrew Cuomo? There really needs to be some way of suing elected officials for malpractice in lease negotiations.