(WBEN) Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says while it is not complete, he has seen enough of the county's cement study on the foundation of 40 year old Ralph Wilson stadium, to know that funding of renovations there would not be a waste of money.
But there are some with dire predications about the stadium's true condition, and they continue to press for construction of a new downtown Buffalo domed stadium and convention facility with the Bills as a prime- tenant.
"We have over 2,400 signatures on our petitions, the interest is growing, " says Pat Freeman, who is skeptical about the team's long term viability at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.
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Erie County Exec. Mark Poloncarz
" When you build a new facility...you will lock them in for multiple years and the other principal owners in the NFL won't allow a team to move after a municipality builds a new facility," he says.
Talks continue with the county, the state and the Buffalo Bills to negotiate a new lease with the Buffalo Bills for the county-owned facility, with the onus on the county for funding of renovations that have been estimated at $100 million.
"We are not going to discuss at this point where we are with the Bills, whether it is continuing at the Ralph or a brand new stadium, but there are a number of factors that need to be kept in mind that unfortunately people out in the community are not discussing when they talk about a new stadium," says Erie County Exec. Mark Poloncarz
Freeman initially developed his conversation around the possibility of placing the new development on the site of the city-owned Perry Housing projects, but he says he has interest from various funding groups and is now prepared to put forth a second site proposal Tuesday.
Regardless, Poloncarz remains cautious, and says no matter where you put a stadium downtown, transportation issues would have to be addressed.
For example, if you were to consider putting one on the NFTA's vacant outer harbor land "number one, you'd have to have the money to pay for it, it would be very expensive, and number two, if you put a stadium on the outer harbor with literally only one or two exits that serve the stadium from Route 5, you'd have some of the longest traffic jams in the world," he says.
The Outer Harbor is the largest undeveloped parcel of land on Buffalo's waterfront . Until he presents his latest site ideas and possible funding commitments to the Buffalo city council, Freeman has not said specifically if an outer harbor site is under consideration.
But he is adamant that Ralph Wilson stadium is too old to warrant a lot of new investment.
"I believe that after the cement study has been made public, and the numbers are crunched, I don't think we will be talking about Ralph Wilson stadium as far as renovations. I think we need to move the discussion to a new stadium, or keep extending the lease out here to see what happens, or just let the Bills go." Freeman says.