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CITY COULD REAP BENEFITS OF SELLING PILOT FIELD

In the Feb. 26 "Off Main Street" column, The News devoted a segment to convincing readers that during the 1985 discussions concerning the construction of Pilot Field, I did not know the meaning of developmental seed money.

I never made any of the statements The News attributed to my confusing developmental seed money with money to buy grass seed. If I had, I would understand the legitimate purpose and see some humor in the segment.

I would like to set the record straight. In 1985, I was troubled about the city undertaking a project such as Pilot Field while diminishing city services and not making needed infrastructure repairs. I also was not convinced of Robert Rich Jr.'s total commitment to obtaining a major league baseball franchise. Furthermore, I felt that, without the acquisition of a major league baseball team, the stadium would not result in the strong financial shot in the arm that the city needed. Now, 10 years later, we are still paying for the construction bonds. And because the structure is beginning to age, we may have additional maintenance expenses this year.

Mr. Rich has not purchased a major league franchise, so the financial bonanza that was projected for the downtown area has not taken place. Mr. Rich, however, has made millions of dollars and has marketed his restaurant, located in the city-subsidized facility, while other downtown establishments have been forced to compete without the benefit of being subsidized.

Considering our city's present fiscal problems, I recently suggested that Mr. Rich, or anyone else in the private sector, purchase the ball park. The money generated from such a sale would certainly help us solve our present fiscal crisis while continuing to deliver the types of vital services that the citizens of this city deserve.

To use a tired metaphor, the purchase of Pilot Field by a member or members of Buffalo's business elite would help "seed" our efforts to put our city back on its financial feet.

ALFRED T. COPPOLA
Common Council Member, Delaware District
Buffalo

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