ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday that the Cuomo administration is committed to keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western New York. Her comments come as three-way stadium negotiations are underway between the NFL team, Erie County, and the state.
The sides are currently focusing on a proposal to demolish existing Highmark Stadium and build a new facility “across the street” in Orchard Park, Hochul said.
On Sunday, The Buffalo News reported the team is asking the public to foot the entire $1.1 billion bill.
“The numbers are not going to be discussed today,” Hochul said. “They’re unknown at this point because we’re just having preliminary conversations. But let the fans know we’re very excited about the upcoming season. And we expect the Bills will be here a very long time.”
A spokesperson for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz declined to comment Sunday. A Pegula Sports and Entertainment spokesperson also declined to comment.
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who serves as the New York State Assembly Majority Leader and represents part of the City of Buffalo, said that much public money should not be necessary.
“It’s not realistic,” Peoples-Stokes said. “I think it’s too much to ask the public to sponsor your entire opportunity to make money.”
The Buffalo News report also noted the Bills have made clear to government that there are other cities that would like to have an NFL team. ESPN’s Seth Wickersham also tweeted Sunday, saying Austin, Texas “is a possible destination—or threat” if the Bills don’t get their way during negotiations.
“We’re not feeling threatened,” Hochul said. “We’re having conversations with the organization. We’re going to get the result that this community needs.”
The Bills lease to play at Highmark Stadium expires following the 2022 season.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.