BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz lamented at one point during Bills stadium negotiations, “it does not help when you have all this speculation going on and I read a story … and reading parts of it, I go, ‘I know that’s not true.’ Because I’ve been in the meetings.”
But one part of stadium negotiation lore that was true, he says now, was that the team initially asked for taxpayers to fund the entire cost of the new stadium.
“You never get everything you want in a negotiation,” Poloncarz wrote in a series of tweets about the stadium agreement. “We didn’t. The Pegulas didn’t (their original ask was for NYS and County to build a stadium in OP w/no team contribution). It’s a compromise. The team stays. That’s a win.”
The Buffalo News reported in August that the team initially sought stadium funding to be 100% covered by taxpayers. A spokesperson for Pegula Sports & Entertainment declined to comment for the story, but disputed the dollar figure of the team’s ask after the story was published. The county did not comment on the report but Poloncarz stressed days later there would be “no blank check” handed to the team.
Public reaction to the story was overwhelmingly negative, and the ask was termed a “non-starter” for politicians. A different PSE spokesperson calmed some concerns later in August by saying owners Terry and Kim Pegula “have always known that, like virtually all NFL stadiums, this will ultimately be some form of a public/private partnership.”
Negotiations dragged on throughout the winter before culminating with a deal in late March that includes at least $350 million from the team, although the team portion includes money raised through the sale of personal seat licenses.
The breakdown of the $1.4 billion stadium plan is as follows:
- $600 million from New York (much of it coming from long-awaited Seneca casino payments that had been withheld)
- $350 million from the Bills (includes funds raised by PSLs)
- $250 million from Erie County
- $200 million from the NFL (which requires ownership to put up at least this much)
Poloncarz added in the Twitter thread that he hoped for a stadium in Buffalo but couldn’t justify the additional costs.
“I wasn’t going to cut funding for public health, libraries, etc., to fund a stadium. I don’t in new OP deal. I would [need to] to fund city site,” he wrote, “and probably have to create a new tax, or increase property taxes, to fund a city site. Getting any of that passed wasn’t feasible for many reasons.”