BRO submission by Aaron Walker:
Having seen recent images of Mr. Ralph Wilson at the HOF I looked on in wonder, remembering the 30+ years of great memories from being a fan of the Buffalo Bills. It was also a stark reminder that, in the near future a new owner will take over the team WNY loves.
It is time WNY shows that we can build something great and demand the best. Spending $200+ million to fix up and old stadium in the Southtowns is a losing strategy. The next owner of this team will demand a better home, just like any of us would, if we spent $1 billion for an NFL team. NFL Stadiums have recently opened in Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New England, Philadelphia and Indianapolis. The notion that WNY doesn't need or can't afford a NEW stadium is ludicrous. We do and we can.
Why not build a brand new football stadium next to the UB Amherst Campus on the Audubon golf course property? A glistening 65,000 seat domed stadium that will end the Toronto series and sell out 8 games every year, December included. A stadium that will be 30 minutes closer to Rochester and Toronto with a great game day atmosphere for all. A stadium with a 30 year lease tying the Bills to Buffalo for the next 3 decades. A stadium that will be the new home for the UB Division 1 Football team and capable of helping build that program. A stadium used 30, 40, 50 times a year, able to host College Bowl games, the Super Bowl, the large concerts and events that pass WNY by today.
UB can utilize the existing stadium as part of the UB2020 strategy and possibly build a hockey arena for a soon to be established Division 1 Men's Hockey team. Amherst can use the money from sale of the land to buy the Westwood CC course now being discussed.
How to pay for all this? The Seneca Nation is currently withholding a reported $400 million in Casino Revenue from Albany. 25% goes to the host cities and 75% to the state. That is $300 million of money from WNY going to Albany that should stay in WNY. Why not a 50/50 split with an $800 million budget. NY State kicks in $300 million now, plus $100 million from future casino revenues. The Bills would contribute $200 million and borrow $200 million from the G4 stadium fund. Naming rights would generate $40 to $60 million over 20 years for the Bills and the new stadium should generate another $5 to $10 million annually.
WNY gets a new, centrally located, stadium that keeps the Bills where they belong. UB has access to a large capacity football stadium, needed to build a 1st rate college program. Plus needed space to realize UB2020 and a great opportunity to grow a Men's D 1 Hockey Program that is a natural for this area. All of this done with money already being generated in WNY. The idea that no taxpayer money should fund a private business like the Bills is a joke. See Geico, Yahoo, Ingram, Olin, Oxy, Roswell Park, Kaleida and every other subsidy or tax break granted to businesses across this region.
Is there a leader in WNY with the vision and tenacity to bring this kind of project to life? Our recent history says NO, but the future of Football in WNY will rest on the decisions we make in the very near future.