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The Erie County Legislature today approved the documents outlining plans for the new Buffalo Bills stadium.  In a vote of 10-0 county lawmakers signed off on the agreement, which allows for work to get underway on the construction of the new stadium on the current site of SUNY Erie South Campus.

“This has been a long but important process,” said Erie County Legislator and Minority Leader John Mills.  “This new stadium is in my district, so it impacts in many ways the people I represent.  I wanted to be sure it was a fair deal for Orchard Park and for the taxpayers of Erie County.  I wanted to ensure quality of life issues were addressed for the neighborhoods nearby as there will be ongoing construction work for the next five years.”

The Legislature’s Minority Caucus ensured future generations won’t be straddled with the cost of a new stadium by negotiating an agreement with the Administration whereby Erie County pays more in cash from budget surplus to fund the County’s $250 million obligation.  Nearly half of Erie County’s obligation will be paid in cash, as opposed to borrowing.  That arrangement will result in an estimated savings of about $80 million in interest.

“This deal respects the taxpayers.  It also puts the responsibility of maintaining the stadium on New York State and the Buffalo Bills organization.  Since ownership of the new stadium transferred to the state, Erie County will no longer be responsible for the associated costs,” said Legislator Frank Todaro.  “We are ensuring the team stays here for years to come.”

Once construction of the new stadium is complete, that property will be transferred from Erie County to New York State.  The state will then lease the complex to the Buffalo Bills.  The project is now expected to cost about $1.54 billion.  That’s an increase of $140 million in the past year.  All increases and overruns will be paid by the Bills organization according to terms of the agreement.

“The good news is taxpayers don’t foot the bill if the cost keeps going up.  This is a once-in-a-generation project, perhaps many generations.  It is important that we get this right,” said Legislator Chris Greene.  That’s why I’m grateful we took the time to go through the agreement thoroughly and came up with a plan to fund the project that would be reasonable.  We are saving upwards of $85 million over the life of the loan by paying much of Erie County’s portion in cash.” 

Under the agreement, New York State pays $600 million, Erie County’s responsibility is $250 million, and $550 million is the responsibility of the NFL and the Buffalo Bills, with the organization paying for cost overruns.

“I served in town government for more than a decade.  I see how these big decisions impact the residents in our smaller communities.  They are passionate about their team.  But they are also challenged with the rising cost of living.  This is a responsible agreement.  We recognize that we don’t want their children and grandchildren paying for a stadium and its upkeep forever,” said Legislator Jim Malczewski.  “This agreement ensures they won’t.  Perhaps most importantly, the Bills stay where they belong, in Buffalo.

Erie County Legislators vote on new Buffalo Bills stadium agreement