Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Friday said he believes it’s “possible” a new stadium might have to be built to ensure that the Buffalo Bills remain in Western New York, but he said if such a project is required, his first objective would be find a way to minimize the government’s financial role.
“If we had to go to a new stadium, my opening position would be, ‘great. New stadium. Privately financed.’ I agree that the less government money, the better – if we had to go in that direction in the first place,” he said.
Cuomo was responding a question by The Buffalo News involving some people’s contention that if a new sports facility is built, private entities should foot the tab. Critics have argued that public money could be better spent on fixing crumbling roads, bridges and addressing other problems in the region.
Meanwhile, the governor acknowledged that Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, has publicly expressed a desire to see a new facility constructed.
“We’re pursuing the idea of a new stadium,” Cuomo told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session that followed a campaign rally in Amherst. “We’re going to be working very hard to do everything we can to keep the Bills here.”
But the governor conceded that it could be a heavy lift if construction of a new stadium would require the state to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to the project. The governor said the Buffalo Billion economic development initiative red-flagged the difficulties in convincing state leaders in other regions that the Western New York area warranted extraordinary help from Albany.
“Other parts of the state say ‘how about us?’ There’s an equity argument,” Cuomo said.
While the governor noted that the state has helped to build stadiums in downstate New York, he said coming up with another huge pot of state money for a project in the Buffalo region would likely face some obstacles.
“But if it was essential, I would support it,” he said. “Now, the devil is in the details. Where? How much? It’s not just government money. It would be private money, also.”
When the Buffalo Bills signed a 10-year pact with Erie County in late 2012 that called for $130 million in improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium, one clause called for the creation of a New Stadium Working Group, a panel that would study the feasibility of a new stadium.
That group has been meeting to review options.