The taxpayer-funded $850 million deal to build a $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills isn’t just a touchdown for upstate fans of star quarterback Josh Allen — it’s a big one too Profit for Governor Kathy Hochul’s husband’s company.
Bill Hochul is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Delaware North, the largest food concessionaire at the Buffalo Bills current Highmark Stadium.
Delaware North and its employees may benefit from another 30 years of work at the new stadium, assuming the Buffalo-based company retains the concession.
“Delaware North has operated concessions, premier dining and retail services at Highmark Stadium since 1992. The 71,870-seat venue is home to the Buffalo Bills of the NFL,” reads a summary on the company’s website.
“The Delaware North culinary team creates locally and regionally inspired dishes for the stadium’s 66 concession locations. Premium dining includes 123 suites and seven clubs with in-seat service.
“Delaware North manages 19 retail locations, including a year-round Team Store and 18 permanent and mobile booths,” the company says.
Albany insiders on Tuesday pointed to how Bill Hochul’s company is benefiting from the stadium deal, at a time Gov. Hochul has been criticized for saying the state taxpayer’s $600 million subsidy for the new stadium’s stadium area Bills reeks of corporate welfare. Erie County will pay an additional $250 million for the new stadium, while the Bills will fund the remainder of the $1.4 billion.
The Post first reported on March 11 about the planned massive tax subsidies for the new Bills Stadium.
“One of the biggest winners from this bad stadium deal is Delaware North. Delaware North will make far more money from additional new food and beverage businesses at the new stadium,” said John Kaehny, executive director of state watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
Kaehny questioned how Hochul avoided conflict approving the Bills’ stadium deal “when her husband’s company, Delaware North, is one of the big winners.”
“This is such a bad deal for taxpayers that it’s unbelievable,” he said.
A veteran Albany lobbyist also questioned the governor’s role in pushing the Bills’ lavish stadium deal given Delaware North’s dealings with the football team.
“She definitely should have retired — her spouse has a direct financial interest,” the source said.
“Worse, the whole deal was negotiated behind closed doors — with NFL owners who were far more informed than any lawmakers.”
Hochul signed an ethical walk-out memo on Aug. 23, vowing to avoid direct interactions with her husband’s company, Delaware North.
“As governor, you will not use your position to advance the interests of Delaware North,” the memo, prepared by ethics officer David Perino, said.
Hochul issued a press release on Tuesday, insisting she had kept her vow to withdraw from any dealings with her husband’s company.
“Governor Hochul has released the full walk-out agreement, which she is adhering to to avoid conflicts of interest,” the statement said.
“In the agreement, Gov. Hochul agrees to withdraw from all matters related to Delaware North and promises not to use her position to benefit the interests of that company,” the statement said.
Delaware North said Bill Hochul and the company played no role in the Bills’ stadium negotiations with Hochul, state or local officials, or the team.
“Bill Hochul wasn’t involved in the Bills’ stadium negotiations — and neither was Delaware North. We are proud to have served as the grantee of Highmark Stadium since 1992,” said Delaware North spokesman Glen White.
A Buffalo Bills spokesman said the concession with Delaware North will expire at the end of the 2022 season and the team will put the contract up for a competitive bid next year.
Meanwhile, one of Hochul’s main Democratic opponents, Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, also slammed the connection between Hochul and Delaware North.
“It’s the biggest giveaway in NFL history (for 8 home games a year) and Hochul’s husband happens to represent Delaware North, which has the concession contract at the current stadium. We can build a stadium, but let the billionaire pay, not the fans and taxpayers!” said Suozzi.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/kathy-hochuls-husband-could-benefit-from-buffalo-bills-deal/ Kathy Hochul’s husband could benefit from Buffalo Bills deal