Should convention center studies include prospective downtown stadium?

Convention center location could be incorporated with Bills stadium

Mike Baggerman
March 15, 2019 - 3:00 am

Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. September 20, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - As Erie County moves forward with plans for additional studies on a convention center, the prospect of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Downtown Buffalo continues to loom.

CAA Icon in January asked Bills fans for their thoughts on a downtown stadium for the football team and there's a suggestion that Buffalo could create a new stadium that is also a convention center, similar to what Indianapolis has. 

Earlier this week, the county revealed that most people surveyed believe that Erie County should remain in the convention center business, which warrants additional studies for two sites. One of those sites is the current convention center site on Franklin Street. The other site is at the HSBC lot by the Sabres arena. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he was not going to talk about a downtown Bills stadium when he made his announcement on Wednesday regarding the results of the county's survey.

"Go talk to the Bills...I've talked to them," an exasperated Poloncarz said Wednesday. "The only one who wants to talk about a new stadium is the media. Go talk to the Bills...It's click-bait. It sells. It's stuff like that....Talk to the Bills. I have lots of conversations with the Bills but nobody likes to talk to them and when they answer a question, they don't like their answer so they don't like to report it."

WBEN attempted to speak with Kim Pegula at an unrelated event this week but were told she would not answer any media questions.

Erie County Legislator April Baskin, who is Chair of the Economic Development Committee, told us that she's excited Erie County will continue research on a convention center. 

She said that it's going to be up to the Pegula's whether or not Erie County should incorporate a downtown stadium into their studies on a convention center. 

"It has to be something they come to the table and agree with and want to sit down," Baskin said. "If we're not there yet, we just can't have that dialogue."

Fellow legislator, Joe Lorigo, said that Erie County needs to have the conversation about a merged downtown stadium and convention center because it's a conversation in the public. Like Baskin, Lorigo said that the Pegula's haven't said what their intentions are.

"The arena location isn't really feasible," Lorigo said about public perception of a convention center. "All of the infrastructure, entertainment, businesses, and hotels, are closer to the (Franklin Street) location. I'm not looking to spend an additional $250,000 to study the (HSBC lot) because I think it's a waste of money."

Lorigo said the Pegula's are showing a willingness to keep the stadium in Orchard Park because of the investments they've made there.

The Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres stadium studies should be complete by mid-summer. 

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