Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reacted on Thursday to news reports that Scott Congel could be part of a bid to buy the Buffalo Bills, and that the plan could include a new stadium on the site of the former Seneca Mall.
"I met with Mr. Congel and some of his associates in this room yesterday," Poloncarz said during a news conference at the Rath County Office Building. "We had a very productive discussion as he talked about his Seneca Place proposal. His proposal did not include a new stadium."
Poloncarz seemed skeptical of the idea that Congel would build a stadium on or near the site. "Ralph Wilson Stadium's footprint is somewhere around 200 acres between the football stadium and the parking. Congel's site alone is anywhere from 55 to 64 (acres) depending on if you include one of the parcels of property. You could put a stadium there, but you've got nowhere to put parking, you've got nowhere to put people. That site alone is not going to be sufficient to build a stadium."
The County Executive also warned that, in reality, it is still to early talk about stadium design.
"If you're talking about the location of the Buffalo Bills, you better be talking to the Buffalo Bills."
That isn't entirely possible yet without the team's new owner in place. Poloncarz says there is only so much that the New Stadium Working Group can do before the team is sold. The New Stadium working group is identifying possible sites, but Poloncarz says it would be "silly" to move much farther ahead without a new owner, or guarantee that the team would remain in Western New York.
In the past few months, several groups have come forward with plans for a new stadium that could host the Bills. Poloncarz says that all of those plans are not helpful to the process, and any plan for a new Bills Stadium would include heavy input from the Bills themselves.
"When the one group announced the Outer Harbor stadium design without having talked to the county, without having talked to the state, or more importantly, without having talked to the Buffalo Bills, it pretty much guaranteed that site is not going to be a viable site. The team that has to play there, that has an interest in the stadium, is going to want to be an equal partner in the announcement, the design, and the site selection."
And on the topic of ownership, Poloncarz says to not get too caught up in the names that are in the news.
"I know for a fact that there are prospective owners that none of you have reported on. Some that want to keep the team in Buffalo, some that truthfully are interested in moving it. Will they put a bid in? I don't know."