Todaro won’t support taxpayer-funded new stadium if vaccine rules remain

Bills Stadium Discussions

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — “I will not support tax dollars to build a new stadium if rules remain in place that only certain people can use it.” That is the opinion of Erie County Legislator Frank Todaro, who released a statement in response to the new vaccination rules at Highmark Stadium and the KeyBank Center.

With new vaccination rules set to take effect at both Highmark Stadium and the KeyBank Center, some people may no longer be able to attend events until they’re protected from COVID-19.

New regulations are being put in place for people ages 12+ after numerous attendees were seen maskless inside the bathrooms and concourses during Sunday’s Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game.

MORE | Erie County, PSE outline new vaccine requirements for Highmark Stadium, KeyBank Center

In summary, here are the new rules:

  • Highmark Stadium guests must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by September 26, while KeyBank Center guests must have it by September 25.
  • Guests at these venues must be fully vaccinated by October 31. That means their last shot must have occurred at least two weeks before that date.
  • Anyone under age 12 must wear a mask at all times.

Highmark Stadium is owned by Erie County, but the team that plays there is under the thumb of Terry and Kim Pegula.

Because of the dilapidated condition of the current home of the Bills, the Pegulas have proposed the creation of a brand new, $1.4 billion stadium; one that would come by way of local residents.

Legislator Todaro says he doesn’t support the creation of a new stadium if taxpayers are going to foot the bill. And he especially isn’t okay with citizens paying for it if only some fans are allowed there, due to the new vaccine rules.

“As a legislator who will be asked to vote on this, that proposal was dead on arrival with me,” he says.

Todaro, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, says vaccination “is not the right decision for everyone and I respect that.”

MORE | School Bus chaos continues for families in Buffalo

The new rules requiring vaccination were announced on Tuesday afternoon.

“The rule wasn’t in place on Sunday, and Highmark Stadium was packed. Obviously, people made a choice about whether or not they thought it was safe and I believe they should have that freedom,” Todaro says. “If they don’t think it is safe, they should stay home.”

You can read his full statement below:

“I want to be very clear about something. For months the community has been talking about building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Erie County owns the current stadium and would be responsible for building a new stadium. The Pegulas have proposed a $1.4 billion stadium that would be fully funded by taxpayers. As a legislator who will be asked to vote on this, that proposal was dead on arrival with me. Taxpayers cannot foot the entire bill. The negotiations for a new stadium and lease with the team are going on in private. Legislators aren’t being apprised on the developments. The process is terrible. Today the team joins the County Executive and announces that non-vaccinated fans can no longer attend games. I don’t represent vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons, I was elected to represent people. All people. I personally am vaccinated. It was the right decision for me. It is not the right decision for everyone and I respect that. I do not like the path we are heading down as a society, and as a legislator, I cannot support it. I will not support tax dollars to build a new stadium if rules remain in place that only certain people can use it. If everyone is paying for it, everyone should be able to use it. The rule wasn’t in place on Sunday, and Highmark Stadium was packed. Obviously, people made a choice about whether or not they thought it was safe and I believe they should have that freedom. If they don’t think it is safe, they should stay home. In conclusion, if the Bills want to make these kinds of rules on their own, they can, but they should then stop asking for significant taxpayer support. I was elected to serve, not rule. That standard seems lost on County Executive Poloncarz.”

Legislator Frank Todaro

For those who do wish to get vaccinated, more information on deadlines to get protected in time for local events can be found here.

MORE | Beasley, Ferguson offer to buy away game tickets for unvaccinated fans

COVID-19 News

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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