Buffalo Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula, after years of pressure from the NFL, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and local media, are now looking into building into a stadium in their current home of Orchard Park, according to WROC-TV, citing “a source.” This unleashed a flurry of news reports from other sites, all citing WROC. The sum total of what’s being reported so far:
- The Pegulas are “planning” for a stadium somewhere in Orchard Park.
- The design would be open-air, but with a covering over seating sections.
- It is expected to take 3-5 years to finish.
- Legends, the consultants co-owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, have been hired to sell sponsorships and premium seats.
…and that’s it. It’s pretty thin gruel, and leaves many, many questions unanswered: How much would a stadium cost? (Potentially $1 billion, per prior reports, though supposedly Orchard Park would be cheaper to build in than downtown Buffalo.) Who would pay for it? Where exactly, would it be built? Would it get any tax breaks or subsidized land deals? The WROC report doesn’t address of these issues, which maybe becomes more understandable when you get to the part of the report where the station bemoans how “any New York State resident could attest to the folly” of “legal wrangling” with the “fickle and difficult state and local government” — apparently all my neighbors have been suing Albany and I never realized it?
With so little to go on, we instead get articles like this one from Yardbarker, adding five to 2021 and realizing that a new stadium might not be ready until 2026 or later, and seeing that the Bills’ current lease expires in 2023, and speculating that the team might have to move to Toronto or Penn State temporarily. Far simpler — and far more common a practice — would be for Erie County to just give the team a short-term extension while a new place is in the works, but you don’t get many clicks from “Bills could have to sign additional paperwork,” so “Bills could temporarily move to Toronto” it is. (Presumably Yardbarker hasn’t heard about the #BillstoGreensboro groundswell.)
This is almost certainly only the very beginning of a long, drawn-out process — or the end of the very beginning, if you count everyone spending years talking about it while the Pegulas went Gee, I dunno… to be the beginning — but it does seem to be more concrete plans than the team owners have pursued up until now. At least, according to the “source,” who could be leaking it because it’s for real, or because it’s a trial balloon, or to try to get the positive bits out first without any tough financial questions in order to frame the story as “How can we pay for this?” rather than “Why would a new stadium be $1 billion better than the old one again?” Hopefully some more in-depth reporting will follow, though given the past behavior of the local news outlets, I’m not exactly holding my breath.