ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Erie County Legislators Joe Lorigo, Chris Greene, Frank Todaro and John Mills want to make sure the legislature and the public can weigh in on the new Bills stadium proposal.
They wrote a resolution that would require a 90-day period for the legislature to talk about the proposal once it’s submitted.
"Regardless of where a new stadium is, it’s going to come with a massive price tag," Minority Leader Lorigo said. "Reports are indicating that the Pegulas want significant taxpayer support. If this is the case, it’s only fair that the public should have enough time to provide their input on the final proposal. As legislators, we also need time to review the plan from every angle before taking a vote. During the last round of negotiations, a plan was put in front of us at the 11th hour. This can’t happen again. I’m happy my colleagues agree we need transparency throughout this process and I hope to have this resolution up for consideration at our session later this week."
They also want to hold three public hearings and establish an online comment forum.
"Several weeks ago, the Legislature unanimously agreed there should be more transparency throughout the process of considering a new Bills stadium. Part of that is making sure we have enough time to review what we are voting on, and taxpayers should have plenty of opportunity to provide their thoughts on a project this size," Legislator Greene said.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment is looking to build a $1.4 billion stadium near the Bills current home in Orchard Park.
"Taxpayers could be asked to fund a massive portion of a new Bills stadium. If the people of Erie County are expected to pay for it, they have a right to know what’s being proposed and they should have an opportunity to speak out. This resolution would establish three public hearings throughout different areas of Erie County as well as an online public comment period to ensure everyone has a chance to weigh in," Legislator Todaro said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul says a study examining alternate options for a stadium will be released in mid-November. She says there is still a possibility a stadium could be built in downtown Buffalo.
"Anything we have heard about a new stadium comes from what is reported by the local media. Sooner rather than later, we’re going to be asked to approve a new facility with a big price tag. Our resolution would give us enough time to review the proposal and it would allow for public input. I strongly believe this is necessary before we can make a final decision," Legislator Mills said.
The lease between Erie County and the Bills for Highmark Stadium expires in 2023.