Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says he will be “personally involved” in securing the future of the Buffalo Bills in Western New York, following the departure of two of his top aides.
The governor made that promise Tuesday during a ceremony at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, addressing last week’s resignation of top aide Howard Glaser and Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy’s scheduled exit from government in December.
“This is a very big deal for us, so I’m going to be personally involved in it,” Cuomo said of keeping the Bills in the Buffalo area.
He promised that Duffy will continue to represent him in discussions about a potential new stadium until leaving office Dec. 31.
The governor also hinted that his running mate, former Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, would assume a role in the effort if they are both elected to a four-year term in November.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a new lieutenant governor, and that will be the transition,” he added. “I know there is a lot of anxiety, and a lot of expectation, but the process just has to play out.”
Cuomo said the next step in the process of ownership transition following the death of Ralph C. Wilson Jr. on March 25 is determining which prospective owners submit bids, the details of their bids, and whether the Wilson family and the National Football League want to “do business” with them.
He reiterated remarks he made in Buffalo last week regarding the possibility of a new stadium, when he said he remained unconvinced about the need.
“I said let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Cuomo said. “If everyone agreed that the only way the Bills could stay was a new stadium, then we should talk about a new stadium. I don’t know that that’s the case.”
He pointed to the millions of dollars of public money dedicated to current renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“So, let’s see how it goes,” he said.
The governor also spoke of his optimism for the Riverbend industrial complex planned for the site of the former Republic Steel plant, which is now pegged for an even more substantial manufacturing facility following the recent announcement of new interest by the solar energy industry.
That prompted Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, to tell The Buffalo News his vision for that site to house both solar manufacturing facilities and a new Bills stadium probably no longer works.
“The footprint will be much larger and more of the site will be obviously needed,” he said of the company’s needs.
Higgins had previously suggested the site as a potential Bills stadium because of its access to major transportation modes like the Niagara Thruway and rail.