BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo Bills fans are buzzing about the possibility of a new stadium with a retractable roof coming to downtown Buffalo.
On Tuesday, the Common Council looked at a proposal that lays out plans for a 72,000-seat stadium along the waterfront. There would be a lot of steps to make the plan a reality, but the group behind it says it's already taken one big step: investing close to a million dollars to put together a site plan with the Premier Stadium Architectural Group.
Common Council President Rich Fontana said, "Maybe two years ago people would have thought this is a farce, but to be honest, seeing the stadium on that polluted site that could be cleaned up for this type of use, really is exciting a lot of people here in the chambers."
The Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex is a local group, consisting of Nicholas Stracick and George Hasiotis. They want to build a $1.4 billion retractable roof stadium for the Buffalo Bills to play on the city's outer harbor.
"The model that Nick is offering here is a huge return on investment. Whether it's $200 million or $400 million from the state, it's something that's going to be good for 50 years. And the facility, it's not just a standard investment in a football stadium," Hasiotis said.
It would be a multi-use stadium that could serve as a convention center and accommodate other sports. In order for the plan to move forward, the group needs the NFTA to sell them the land. The city would take control of the land first. Construction on a new stadium would be five years out.
The group admits it still needs political backing, plus support from the Bills and the state. But Tuesday they pitched the idea to the city, and they say acquiring the land will be a huge step.
"I really don't think the land is the problem. I think funding the new stadium and selling this to the powers that be would be the biggest hurdle," Fontana said.
The group told News 4 they would hope for 30 percent public funding, which would be about $400 million. Bill CEO Russ Brandon was on the radio Tuesday afternoon, and although he was very nice about it, he called this idea a "non-starter" and that there is "nothing to it."
Hasiotis says he's moving forward without the backing of the Bills or Erie County because he says fixing the Ralph now is not a long-term solution to keeping the Bills in Buffalo. And he believes the NFL, when it sees a legitimate plan for a new stadium exists, will provide the backing they need.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued this statement regarding the latest proposal for a football stadium on outer harbor land:
"We are pleased that there is so much interest in keeping the Buffalo Bills in our community. However, we were not contacted by the proponents of this latest plan to discuss the matter. We look forward to discussion and debate when our negotiations are complete and the proposal to keep the Bills in our community is presented to the public for consideration and to the Erie County Legislature for its approval.
In regards to the proposal released today, as we have noted before, there are several problems with the proposed Outer Harbor site, such as a lack of space needed for parking, distance from the downtown core, and insufficient road infrastructure (particularly in bad weather) to accommodate the thousands of fans heading to the site. Just this morning, we witnessed the Skyway being closed due to an accident, which resulted in traffic delays of 1-2 hours from the Skyway back to Hamburg; the Skyway currently serves as the only access point to this site.
As we have stated in the past, we will continue to work on negotiating a lease with the Buffalo Bills at their current home in Orchard Park, which the Bills have indicated they do not want to leave. While these ongoing negotiations have been productive, we will not be discussing their content in the media."
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