ORCHARD PARK N.Y. (WIVB) – As talks of a new Bills Stadium continue, one local lawmaker is pushing for the deal to include cheaper food and drinks. State Assemblyman Bill Conrad wrote a letter to those involved in negotiations asking for ‘Fan First’ concession pricing at the new stadium.
“Let’s be honest, if there’s one loyal base of fans that deserves a little something, it would be the Buffalo Bills fans,” Assemblyman Conrad told News 4.
He said he wanted to put the idea out there, since a large portion of the estimated $1.4 billion for a new stadium in Orchard Park is expected to come from taxpayers.
“I understand that there’s probably a conversation about using public money, I know not everyone is a fan of that, but we don’t want to lose the Bills,” he said. “We’re all Bills fans and want to keep them right here. I don’t think it’s too absurd to say, ‘Hey if we’re going to use some public money, why not ask?'”
In his proposal to Governor Kathy Hochul, County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the Pegulas, he mentioned the concession pricing models what the Falcons’ stadium in Atlanta has done.
“They actually made more money, and people had more money in their pocket and they basically bought other things,” he said. “They bought more concessions and they bought more merchandise and it was kind of a win win. There’s also a sales tax there that’s a boost for their municipality.”
For precedent, we may look to the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), which opened in 2017. That project cost a reported $1.5 billion, with the public’s total share most recently estimated at $700 million. Economists contend there is no way Georgians will recoup that sum, at least not over the lifetime of the average local taxpayer. It seems reasonable to expect New Yorkers will be asked to contribute a similarly sizable amount in public funds to the construction and upkeep of a new stadium for the Bills.“State Assemblyman Bill Conrad
The full document can be seen below.
Assemblyman Conrad believes this could be a good way to give back to the fans, and Bills fans think so too.
“I think it’d be good,” said fan Joseph Calabrese. “It’d be good for the fans, young fans. It’ll be good for families that want to take their children. Just help a bit with their pockets. I think it’d be a good idea.”
“I understand from a business perspective they’re just making money, but I think they need to give back to the fans and give back to the community that supports them so much,” said Jeff Morreale, who owns Buffalo Apparel Co. on Hertel Avenue. “We’re all in it together right? So if we’re giving money to the Bills, there should be some fan appreciation, and lowering the cost of concessions would really help people who have bigger families who want to go to the game.”
“If it was a Steelers-Bills game I would love it, concession prices are kind of high and it can be expensive, especially if you’re taking the family to the game,” said Cardinale Green, a Steelers fan. “So to have cheaper concessions prices would be outstanding.”
News 4 reached out to the governor’s office for comment and has been told “negotiations are ongoing.”