A poll of Monroe County residents indicates broad opposition to taxpayer spending on a new Buffalo Bills stadium — a clear indication that the NFL’s string of public funding of stadiums may be in peril.While Ralph Wilson Stadium has been upgraded for this season, the changed — despite costing $130 million — are seen as a temporary band aid for the franchise now owned by Terry and Kim Pegula. And while the Pegulas are into sports, owning the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and funding a new Penn State arena that allowed the Nittany Lions to compete in Big Ten hockey, they’re not totally made of money, as New York politicos have raised the possibility of public funding of a new Buffalo Bills stadium, perhaps downtown near the arena.
But the politicos may have underestimated opposition to public spending on a new NFL stadium, per the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:
The poll found 71 percent of all respondents were opposed, 21 percent in favor and 5 percent undecided. That likely comes as little surprise, given the challenges facing western New York, and a national economy emerging from recession with a disgruntled electorate.
“When we’re having the problems that we’re having, that (a new football stadium) is kind of ridiculous,” said poll respondent Carol Saj, 74, of Penfield. “We just put a ton of money into the one that’s up there.”
The $130 million renovation project was undertaken this year — for which Erie County kicked in $41 million and the state, $54 million. With just four games played in the renovated stadium, Bills President Russ Brandon has preached patience, saying “the greatest gift that we have is time” when it comes to considering the matter of a new stadium and weighing options. And there is that $1.4 billion price tag new owners Terry and Kim Pegula paid for the franchise.
Of course, there’s a little parochialism at play here: Monroe County, which contains Rochester, wouldn’t directly benefit taxpayers polled; Buffalo is in neighboring Erie County.