An effort is underway to take the Bills in Buffalo campaign from a grassroots effort to something a bit more organized. It’s starting off with a billboard on Oak Street (as cars get off the 33), and continuing on with lawn signs (lead image) that are now available for purchase at ZoomCopy.
I spoke with developer Rocco Termini, who is one of the backers spearheading the Bills in Buffalo campaign. Termini told me that Buffalo Place met yesterday, and is having a special board meeting next Wednesday to discuss the proposal to place the stadium where the old and deteriorating Perry housing apartment complex is located.
“The concept of relocating the stadium to the city is starting to get legs,” Termini told me. “There’s no reason that the stadium should not be in the city of Buffalo. I’m reaching out to major companies outside of Buffalo, to sponsor a new urban stadium. We need to find aggressive businesses that are looking for recognition. The new stadium would be ideally situated close to the arena, the waterfront, the casino, breweries, highways… along with the advantage of crucial transportation infrastructure such as Metro Rail and trains that would bring people from all over the region (including Rochester and Toronto) directly to the stadium. Can you imagine? This would free up the current Convention Center location for an urban park (see here), creating a grand pedestrian epicenter in the heart of Downtown. There are federal discretionary grant programs that support this type of transit-oriented development. This project would be a poster child for such a project. It’s a major development project around public transportation. It’s what it was designed for. In order to fund this campaign, we’re considering (among other initiatives) designing a special Thin Man beer and beer can that would be sold at supporting bars and restaurants throughout the region – we have to get creative here, to show our support for the Bills in Buffalo.”
A Change.org petition has been launched, to garner support for the Bills in Buffalo campaign. Ryan Miller, the orchestrator of the campaign, who has written on the subject previously, had this to say concerning elevating the campaign from a grassroots effort to a more organized and comprehensive platform.
I have been so encouraged by the recent renewed interest in bringing the Bills back to Buffalo. I think the articles and petition have helped stimulate meaningful public discourse, and regardless of where people think the stadium should go, there now seems to be a larger collective interest from the community towards demanding the new stadium project (no matter where it goes) benefits the taxpayers that will be paying for it in as many ways possible.
I remain steadfast in my belief that the best option for Buffalo and Erie County, now and in the future, is to build the stadium in the city. Fortunately, the petition we started back in August has started to get some momentum behind it- and while it may have seemed like a long shot a few months ago- there now seems to be real political momentum building as well. Governor Hochul has insisted on further exploration and research into a stadium in the city, especially at the South Park Site; and the Buffalo Common Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for local, state, county, and city government officials to work towards making a stadium in the city a reality. Furthermore, powerful and influential local real estate developers Rocco Termini and Paul Ciminelli have also gotten involved, both publicly coming out in support of the stadium being built in the city and releasing their own individual comprehensive stadium site proposals.
There is no doubt all of this is exciting, but in order to make our dream a reality we can’t sit back and just hope this will somehow happen. Now is the time for all of us that want this to band together and fight. There will be obstacles and opposition. Building it in the city is definitely not the easy thing to do (perhaps that’s why the Pegulas appear resigned to Orchard Park); but I am confident it is the right thing to do. We don’t want to look back in 30 years and wonder what could have been. It will take all of us: local taxpayers, government officials, the NFTA, and owners/investors of local businesses, restaurants, and hotels in the city banding together and pooling our collective resources, assets, and influence to pull this off.
I also spoke to Rory Allen, of ZoomCopy, who is printing off the lawn signs. Like Ryan Miller, Allen believes that due to the stadium’s public funding element, it’s important to have this conversation.
“Otherwise we just accept that a study has been done, and we just go with that,” said Allen. “I’m willing to be part of a campaign that promotes the idea of a new stadium in the city, as a potentially valid option. Just think of everyone that went to Nashville for the game – they got there on Thursday for a Monday night game! Nashville is an example where they invested in a stadium, so that they have the Predators playing close to where the Titans play. We have to start thinking about what makes Buffalo a destination – the Bills are our driving factor for recognition in the world. If the answer is that it can’t be done, then I want to hear it from an independent party. There should be more public input. We should also consider what’s going to change in the world (transportation-wise) over the next ten years. By the time the stadium is built, the need for a parking spot is going to look a lot different… just think about automated vehicles, and public transportation. It might seem like a long way away, but it’s not. My belief is that we need to look at the bigger picture, and appeal to the bigger stakeholders. It’s all about consensus building – the state, the county, the Pegulas. We can’t just accept the notion that we’re going to muddy the waters, or there’s no time for public input. At least have them hear us out.”