ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — New York state, Erie County and the Buffalo Bills need to reach a deal on a community benefits agreement by Sunday.
The parties do have to reach an agreement in order to move forward with the new stadium under the framework they reached earlier this year. The original deadline was actually Sept. 1, but they pushed it 45 days to this Sunday, Oct. 16.
The Partnership for Public Good is one of the organizations involved in what they’re calling the Play Fair Coalition. It is asking the Bills ownership Pegula Sports and Entertainment to commit to reinvesting $500 million.
That includes a $100 million community reinvestment fund that would be allocated over the course of 30 years. The coalition also recommends the benefits agreement includes investment from the organization into public transit in general, including creating better gameday access to jobs and entertainment.
Play Fair wants direct investments into youth sports and recreation and public health. They say these sorts of commitments from the teams are common now even in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles where they received far fewer public subsidies.
"Really, what we're looking for is Pegula Sports and Entertainment to recognize that the Buffalo Bills play in a region that is still really affected by long-term, racialized concentrated poverty and health inequity. Many lifelong loyal Bills fans are still dealing with these disparities in health, education, accessing fair and affordable housing," Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Partnership for the Public Good executive director, said.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz did ask legislators involved with the negotiations to sign a non-disclosure agreement so the deal is being brokered largely behind closed doors. The coalition said the secrecy wasn't preferable.
"We see in other communities that they had community input structures. They had many groups at the table that had a stake in long-term economic development deal like this so our deal has been very secretive and very exclusive. That's the reality."
Government leaders are giving very little information right now about progress on the deal or what will be in it. A statement from Poloncarz only said they continue to negotiate terms for all documents related to the construction of a new stadium - pointing out they're also working on a state-required environmental quality review that won't be completed until late-November or early December.
The governor's office gave a similar statement. The initial schedule aims for groundbreaking in the spring and the stadium ready for the 2026 season.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said the CBA decision is between the Bills and the county but she would like to see "value added to transportation, more workforce diversity with construction and more little league/community support."
Peoples-Stokes said she does expect a deal will be reached by the end of the week.