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Majority supports lease deal for Ralph Wilson Stadium

A slight majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll supports the new 10-year stadium lease agreed to by the Buffalo Bills, Erie County and New York state.
The deal includes a commitment intended to keep the Bills in Buffalo for at least seven years-no matter who owns the team. The agreement requires the franchise to pay a $400 million penalty if it breaks the lease before 2020.
The deal also calls for $130 million in improvements to the 39-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium. The state will contribute $54 million and Erie County will contribute $41 million; the team’s share is $35 million.
County and state taxpayers will contribute an additional $132.3 million in payments for annual capital and game-day expenses through the duration of the lease, ESPN reports, under terms similar to the current lease, which expires at the end of July 2013.
The Bills lost 24-10 to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, dropping their record this year to 5-10 with one game remaining. They play the New York Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday. The team is 15-32 in three seasons under head coach Chan Gailey and has not made the playoffs since the 1999 season.
Poll respondents say it’s time for Gailey to go. Nearly 90 percent oppose the Bills keeping him as head coach.
Roughly 310 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Dec. 24.

Do you support or oppose the new stadium lease agreement reached by the Buffalo Bills, Erie County and the state?
Support: 56%
Oppose: 44%

In your opinion, should the Bills keep Chan Gailey as head coach?
Yes: 12%
No: 88%

Glad that the Bills will stay in Buffalo for the foreseeable future, but it’s so typical that the organization is willing to foot the bill for barely one-quarter of the renovations.
—Andrew Brady, the XLR8 Team Inc.

I would support the deal if they would actually attempt to put a quality product on the field, but based on the last 13 years, I do not want to pay for their ineptness.
—David Wagner

You have to pay me to watch the Bills, not the other way around.
—Ian Cunningham

I think that a new lease agreement should include construction of a new multisport facility in the Buffalo Harbor district as presented two months ago. Investing money into the old Ralph Wilson Stadium would be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. This state is in the progression mode; doing anything different would be taking three steps back. It’s about attracting Super Bowls, Final Fours, Bowl Games and major concerts. Let’s build it, get a new coaching staff, draft well, sign some marquee players and return to the playoffs. Buffalo’s biggest stockholder—the 12th man—should no longer be denied.
—Joe Alves, Total Business Solutions

Much too much taxpayer involvement, but probably we have little choice if we want to have a football team in Western New York.
—Charles Kaplan

I fully understand that government assistance was needed to build the Acropolis, but that was before TV. It’s about time we rethink the need for taxpayer money in sports venues.
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc.

Buffalo Bills need a complete housecleaning. The team not only lacks skills but leadership to win—on and off the field!
—Harold Ley, Stoney Point Consultant

Given the billions in revenue generated by the Bills, they should pay for the stadium improvements.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results

Bring back Bill Polian (former Bills’ general manager in the early 1990s) immediately.
—Bruce S. Bellwood

The owner(s) of the Bills have made a great deal of money from their investment in the team. They should be paying a much larger share of the cost of renovating the existing stadium or building a new stadium.
—Douglas Flood

Now was the time for the Bills to make a move in the right direction and catch up to the rest of the league, at least in the facilities department. This agreement will only benefit Erie County, not the team or its fans.
—Jon Freitag, Rochester

We should either use the money to reduce taxes or make a better investment in high-technology development. I prefer keeping taxes down. I doubt that the economic benefit to the community will match the substantial costs of supporting the Bills. Sports fans need to support their sports—not the government.
—Larry Kiser, senior software engineer

I am hoping that they will put a roof over the new stadium; otherwise, they may as well close down. The past 13 years, the Bills have been steadily losing. The player and coaching teams have been changed over and over. Only ownership and management has been steady. Conclusion: There has to be a change in the management’s approach. The past teams have not been teams but a heap of deeply disgruntled divas. This is a management problem. Also, stop playing in Toronto. They don’t care.
—Ingo H. Leubner

If they take public funds, then all games should be on public TV.
—John Cogan

Although I support the agreement, it would have been nice to have the stadium in the ROC!
—Joe Dattilo

No tax money.
—Donald Swartz

Football should not be treated differently than any other business. The team should pay for its own “factory.” If the Buffalo Bills, and every other team in the league, can afford to pay its players multimillion-dollar salaries to work six months a year, they can certainly afford to build their own stadiums. Also, after taking taxpayer dollars to build and maintain the stadium, the taxpayer can’t even watch the home games on TV if the games are not sold out.
—Harry Caruso

For more comments, go to rbjdaily.com.  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at staging.rbj.net/dailyreport.

12/28/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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