Buffalo, N.Y. – A development group is proposing a $1.4 billion waterfront stadium featuring a retractable roof, 72,000 seats, convention center, hotel, 5,000 parking spaces and a branch of the Strong National Museum of Play.
In its first bid to gain public support, Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex, LLC made a pitch to the Buffalo Common Council Tuesday afternoon.
The sports complex would be built on land owned by the state at Buffalo’s outer harbor. The developer needs $400 million from the state. The rest of the money would come from the NFL, unions, sponsors and other private investors.
“The thing is done. We have to get the land. Once we get the land, we get the sponsors,” said GBSEC CEO Nicholas Stracick, a former major league baseball umpire who has been involved in developing sports complexes for some time. “The Bills will move in once the thing is built. Don’t worry about it. It’s done.”
Strong CEO G. Rollie Adams attended the council meeting to support the project. The stadium’s museum would have a sports focus and would be for people of all ages.
“On the surface, it’s easy to see that it’s a dynamic idea that would be important to the entire region,” Adams said. “It certainly extends our mission, so we’re vitally interested in the opportunity to do this, if it works out so that we can.”
The Bills and NFL have not been approached for support. There have also been no feasibility and environmental studies.
Asked by 13WHAM News why taxpayers should support this kind of investment, Stracick said, “It’s not the taxpayers it’s the governor. We’ve got sponsors, $2.7 billion in sponsorship, once we get the land. This is a private initiative.”
When it was pointed out public land and $400 million of taxpayer money at stake, Stracick said, “So what?”
GBSEC estimates the project would take three to five years to complete. Meantime, the Bills are negotiating a new lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium with the state and Erie County.
Sticking points in the negotiations are $200 million in stadium upgrades and penalty clauses if the Bills leave town.
“Every facility reaches the end of its life,” said George Hasiotis, Vice-President of GBSEC. “You can’t keep putting good money into bad.”