Critics slammed $600 million from the state for Bills’ stadium, which isn’t even in Buffalo

Former state officials serving under Ex-Gov. Cuomo Andrew Cuomo fired successor Kathy Hochul for agreeing to give the Buffalo Bills owners $600 million in taxpayer money to build a new stadium that won’t even be in New York’s second largest city.

A state official familiar with preliminary talks for a new Bills Stadium said Cuomo wanted it to be built as part of urban renewal in the city of Buffalo rather than in suburban Orchard Park where the current stadium is located.

“We wouldn’t have made a deal with a stadium in the suburbs. It had to be in downtown Buffalo,” said a former Cuomo official familiar with the discussions.

The source said building a new Bills Stadium in the city would have justified the state paying for infrastructure costs — but making $600 million in state taxpayer money plus another $250 million from the county available to owners von Bills to build their facility in the suburbs was a goalpost too far.

“We would never have given so much. The deal makes no sense,” said the former state official, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.

“I believe in civic pride. But $600 million is way too high a price to pay for civic pride,” the Cuomo insider said. “That’s too big a number. It does not generate economic activity.”

Governor Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the economic impact of the stadiums will help the state greatly.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

But a spokesman for the Bills’ owner, Pegula Sports Entertainment, slapped the former state official with a penal flag for unnecessary rudeness towards Hochul and the Bills.

“That’s 100% not true. Never brought up. That was never addressed [by Cuomo]Pegula Sports Entertainment spokesman Jim Wilkinson said when asked by The Post if Cuomo insisted on a stadium in downtown Buffalo.

An independent analysis commissioned by Empire State Development concluded that a stadium in downtown Buffalo would have cost up to $450 million more than the new Orchard Park Stadium — and displaced up to 3,000 residents and businesses .

During a debate last year, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the cost of a city stadium was prohibitive and he did not advocate for the Bills to move there.

But other experts who deal with stadium subsidies also agreed with the criticism.

“I could justify the federal funding if they revitalized the city of Buffalo,” Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, told The Post.

Rosentraub worked on financing the Las Vegas Raiders’ new stadium.

“Had that been downtown Buffalo, I would have been very interested in defending it. I’m just disappointed that’s not the case,” he said, adding that this seems like a giveaway.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo
Former officials said ex-governor Andrew Cuomo wants to build the new stadium in the city of Buffalo.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The UBS Islanders’ new $1.1 billion hockey arena adjacent to Belmont Park in Elmont was privately funded, although the state has allocated $74 million for a new LIRR station in Elmont near the arena.

Other Albany insiders said it was rich for Cuomo’s camp to claim the main street at the stadium – citing his economic bid-fixing and Buffalo Billion corruption scandal, which led to the sentencing of his closest confidante Joe Percoco and chief economic development official Alain Kaloyeros, led .

Cuomo’s upstate economic development program was widely viewed as a failure.

Hochul defended the stadium deal as solid.

“I went into these negotiations to answer three questions – how long can we hold out?
the Bills in Buffalo, how do we ensure this project benefits the hard working men and women of western New York and how do we get the best deal for taxpayers?” Hochul said Monday.

“I am pleased that after months of negotiations we have found the best possible answers – the Bills will remain in Buffalo for another 30 years, the project will create 10,000 union jobs and New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the.” will
economic activity generated by the team.”

She said the Bills franchise is a proven economic engine for the Buffalo area and state. The bills generate $27 million annually in direct income, sales and use taxes for New York State, Erie County and Buffalo. Revenue will generate over $1.6 billion
30 year rental period.

Tom Suozzi
Tom Suozzi called the deal a taxpayer rip-off.
Matthew McDermott

In addition, fans from across New York, the United States and Canada come to games and spend locally that would not otherwise be spent in the region, resulting in $385 million in annual economic activity.

One of Hochul’s main Democratic opponents, Long Island Assemblyman Tom Suozzi, tore up the Bills’ stadium contract as a taxpayer rip-off.

Suozzi, lamenting New York’s high taxes and rising crime, said, “And what’s the governor doing? She proposes the most lucrative stadium deal in NFL history — four days before the state budget is due after secret negotiations, and expects it to be stamped out in last-minute backroom deals.

“No wonder our state is in so much trouble. It’s no wonder we have the highest taxes in America, the worst business climate in America, people struggling to pay their electric bills and their tax bills, a crime crisis that’s spiraling out of control. And this is a pattern and a practice of this governor.”

Suozzi said there should be public hearings on the stadium deal.

— Additional reporting by Maggie Hicks Critics slammed $600 million from the state for Bills’ stadium, which isn’t even in Buffalo


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