Gov. Kathy Hochul has agreed to pay the Buffalo Bills owners $600 million in New York taxpayer money for a new soccer stadium — in addition to $250 million coming from her state.
But the team’s owners are a couple of snowbirds who can largely avoid paying New York taxes by living in sunny, relatively tax-free Florida.
Bills owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim Pegula have voted from an address in Boca Raton since 2007, records obtained by The Post show.
Critics of the heavily subsidized Bills Stadium deal flagged the Pegulas with a gross taxpayer penalty for offending New York State and local taxpayers.
“There’s all this political talk about people fleeing New York to Florida and the need to bring people back. But this billion-dollar giveaway to the Pegulas rewards them for not only getting out of New York, but getting money out of our state,” said Rep. Ron Kim (D-Queens) angrily.
Erie County is investing $250 million in Bills Stadium, meaning state and local taxpayers will pay $850 million, or much of the $1.4 billion construction cost.
Kim and Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) have proposed legislation to give New Yorkers controlling stakes in a professional team if taxpayers pick up a lion’s share of stadium costs.
Outrage over the Pegulas making Boca Raton their hometown while building a stadium for their team on the backs of heavily taxed New Yorkers spans the political spectrum.
“What you just told me is an insult on top of the injury,” said state Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar, who opposes the stadium subsidy.
There are tax benefits for billionaires like the Pegulas who live in Florida, where there is no state income tax or capital gains tax for individual investors. The highest New York state income tax rate for income over $25 million is 10.9%. Pegula’s sports and entertainment company is based in Buffalo.
“This whole stadium deal is grotesque. It’s crazy. We have super-rich people from abroad getting massive New York subsidies that they don’t need,” said John Kaehny, executive director of state watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“This is New York taxpayer cupping in a predatory way.”
The Bills’ controversial stadium subsidy sparked a heated exchange between Senate Democrats during a closed-door caucus at the Albany Capitol Building on Wednesday night.
Liz Krueger, the chair of the Manhattan Finance Committee, complained that government subsidies for Buffalo’s economic development had been ineffective and that alternatives should be explored to try to help the western New York area. Tim Kennedy, representing Buffalo, told Krueger to retire.
Terry Pegula made most of his billions from fracking natural gas, often in western Pennsylvania through his company East Resources. Royal Dutch Shell bought a majority of East Resources in 2010 for $4.7 billion.
He then bought the Buffalo Sabers hockey team in 2011 and the Bills football team in 2014. His Buffalo-based Pegula Sports & Entertainment Group manages the teams.
In 2017, The Post reported how Pegula benefited from an obscure tax rule that allowed him and other National Football League owners to deduct the cost of the purchase price from the team’s profits and income for 15 years.
Terry Pegula, 71, was born in Carbondale, Pa., and graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Oil and Gas Engineering. He is a big donor to Penn State, where he funded a collegiate hockey arena.
Pegula’s first job was at Getty Oil in Texas. His energy business, East Resources, later became based in Allegany, New York in the 1980s.
Pegula, through a spokesman for Pegula Sports & Entertainment, declined to comment on his stay in Florida.
Hochul had no immediate comment.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/31/bills-duo-getting-850m-for-buffalo-stadium-live-in-fla/ Bills duo get $850m for Buffalo Stadium live in Florida