Who Will Pay For Big Buck Improvements At The Ralph?

6:30 PM, Oct 22, 2011   |    comments
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Ralph Wilson Stadium - Courtesy: US Presswire

Buffalo, N.Y. - Before the Bills enter into negotiations for a new lease with Erie County, the team wants to see the results of a study that will determine what improvements are needed at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

There are estimates the cost could run as high as $100 million.

Erie County Executive Collins says the state gets $20 million a year in income taxes from the Bills and its players and because of that, the state should pay for the entire tab for improvements, whatever the bill totals to keep the Bills here.

2 On Your Side's Scott Brown spoke with a top national stadium consultant about Collins' position.

Marc Ganis, CEO, Sportscorp Ltd.: "The notion that the Erie County Executive wants the money to be paid for by the state is a proper notion at this stage, but that all depends if the state will step up, or if it doesn't to the extent he asked for, he should have a plan B in his back pocket just in case."

The state has shelled out big bucks recently for a number of new stadiums in New York City:

* $165 million for improvements around the new Yankee Stadium,

* $104 million for the Barclay's Center, the future Brooklyn home of the NBA Nets,

* $96 million for Citi Field, which opened in 2009 as the new home of the Mets.

Marc Ganis says that bodes well for county taxpayers.

Marc Ganis: "The fact that there was some contribution by the state is an argument that Erie County can make to the state, saying 'you need to treat us here in Western New York and our citizens here as well as you treat the citizens of downstate New York and New York City.' So that creates a very strong argument for Erie County for at least some (state) participation."

And Ganis adds that with Ralph Wilson not demanding a new stadium, or threatening to move the team, those are good signs for the team staying here under a new lease.

Marc Ganis: "This should have a happy ending, what Ralph is asking for is relatively modest, the history and the precedents are there (for state participation). One would expect that what is being requested by the Bills will be met by the county and the state in some combination of the two."

2 On Your Side placed three calls into Governor Cuomo's office to see what the Governor's position is on paying for stadium improvements, but no one returned our calls.

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