Both talk and action on a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills appear to be in a holding pattern locally.
It’s been 14 months since a report commissioned by the state identified four sites as potential locations for a new stadium.
The “new stadium working group” made up of state, Erie County and Bills representatives has been suspended, according to team President Russ Brandon.
Now that some NFL owners and executives are pushing for a new stadium for the Bills, there appears to be more urgency outside of Western New York than inside it.
And aside from location, there’s the big issue of where the money would come from to pay for it.
Last summer, Bills owner Terry Pegula said a new football stadium is “nothing urgent right now.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said last month the state is not yet “buying in” on a new stadium for the Bills.
“I’m not going there yet,” he said during a meeting with reporters and editors at The Buffalo News. “We’ll deal with the new stadium issue when we have to.”
In January, Brandon told a gathering of business leaders it was too early to say what will happen with the stadium.
“It needs to make sense for our community and it has to have a macro appeal to our fan base,” Brandon said at the time. “We also have to be practical as we move forward.”
“We are still working through the renovations of Ralph Wilson Stadium,” he said. “We think that renovation will serve us very well.”
“There’s a lot of speculation,” Brandon said. “We are working on Ralph Wilson Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium only for the time being.”
In summer 2014, after a renewed push by the NFL for a new stadium, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz asked the league to cough up financial records of teams to make their case a new stadium is actually needed.
“They have to prove to me that the Bills can’t be viable in Ralph Wilson Stadium,” Poloncarz said at the time. “If we’re going to have to build a new stadium, I want to see something that really proves we need a new stadium.”
Renovations totalling $130 million were completed at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2014.
The Bills have played at the stadium in Orchard Park since 1973. Their current lease runs through the 2022 season.
A January 2015 poll found Erie County voters split on whether taxpayers should pay for part of a new stadium.
— The Buffalo News (@TheBuffaloNews) March 24, 2016