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Several Queens Legislators Announce Opposition to Hochul’s Plan to Advance $600M to Buffalo Bills

Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, New York (Photo: Dan Schoedel CC BY 2.0)

April 1, 2022 By Christian Murray

Several Queens legislators have signed on to a letter calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to scrap her plans to advance the Buffalo Bills $600 million to pay for a new stadium.

The letter comes just four days after the governor announced that she would include $600 million in her executive budget that would go toward the cost of a $1.4 billion new stadium. The funds, she said, would be part of a deal to keep the franchise in Buffalo for another 30 years, which the state would more than recoup in tax revenue.

But many state legislators have come out against the subsidy and were outraged that it was announced just four days before the April 1 budget deadline. The criticism is believed to be a factor in why the budget deadline was not met—along with potential changes to bail reform and the opening of casinos in New York City.

“We, the undersigned, write to oppose the Executive’s proposed public financing for a new Buffalo Bills stadium. This proposal, negotiated in secret and only announced days before the final budget is due, would represent the largest public subsidy to an NFL team in history,” the letter to Hochul read.

The letter was signed by 20 state legislators, including Assembly Members Brian Barnwell, Zohran Mamdani, Ron Kim, Jessica González-Rojas, Khaleel Anderson and State Sen. James Sanders.

“This proposal is a giveaway to Bills’ owner Terry Pegula, an individual who already has $5.8 billion in net worth,” according to the letter. “Buffalo is in need of significant economic revitalization that cannot be achieved through a billionaire giveaway.”

The legislators argue that funds would be better spent on low-income New Yorkers, noting that 2021 census data showed that nearly thirty percent of Buffalo residents live in poverty. They also said that there are 92,000 homeless people in the state.

“New Yorkers in and outside of Buffalo need real investments in this year’s budget; Terry Pegula does not need support for his ownership of an NFL team.”

Other Queens officials, such as State Sen. Jessica Ramos, whose name wasn’t on the letter, have also announced their opposition to the subsidy.

Hochul said that the deal makes fiscal sense and that it was struck after months of negotiations. The deal involves the construction of a $1.4 billion stadium, with $600 million from the state, $250 from Erie County and a combined $550 million from the NFL and Bills.

Hochul said that the construction of the stadium would create 10,000 union jobs and that the investment would be recouped by the economic activity the team generates over 30 years.

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