Mike Baggerman

Town Supervisor Suggests Bills Stadium as Replacement for Tonawanda Coke Site

"Everything is right there" - Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger

October 15, 2018 - 5:34 pm

by Brendan Keany

TONAWANDA (WBEN) - Tonawanda Coke is in the process of shutting down, and already there have been several ideas floated around as to what should be done with the space once cleanup is complete.

Tonawanda Town Supervisor Joseph Emminger brought up one intriguing idea for how to repurpose the Tonawanda Coke site.

"It could be, now don't laugh at this, what about the new Bills stadium?" asked Emminger.

And when asked if he was serious, Emminger didn't back down, and provided an argument for a change in location.

"Everything is right there. I throw that out for consideration at this point," said Emminger half laughing. "I'm being serious, you know, why not? It's a 150-acre site, it has infrastructure right there, Thruway access close to Canada...everything is right there on the site. We're thinking outside the box here."

He also added that a commercial industrial park would be a good use for the site.

Following Emminger's comments, WBEN reached out to George Hamberger, who's a commercial real estate broker at Hanna, and he does not see the Tonawanda Coke site as a top-tier option for a stadium.

"My doubt is that it could support a stadium of that magnitude," said Hamberger. "It's kind of out in the middle of nowhere, in a way, but maybe it would help to bring people from the Northtowns to a Bills game easier than they do now. The Canadian touch would be interesting, because now I know they mostly come over the Peace Bridge. But, I think there are a lot of better places closer to the city of Buffalo that would be good and probably, I think, be another nice jewel in our quickly reviving city."

Hamberger discussed the Perry Projects and the DL&W Terminal right along the Buffalo River as possible solutions that he believes would be better for the region overall.

"I think the city is on such an amazing upswing and so much activity," said Hamberger. "It could be just another thing that people could do, and hopefully they get a dome and hopefully use it a little more year-round for all kinds of activities."

While Emminger and Hamberger discuss the possibilities of new stadium locations for the Bills, just a couple of weeks ago, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that building a new stadium isn't in the immediate plans. The current lease runs through the 2022 season and ends in the summer of 2023.

"It's not like you can just all of a sudden snap your fingers and build a new stadium. Nor do I think the Pegulas feel like they want to throw in a billion dollars," said Poloncarz. "We'll have conversations, we'll always have conversations. I still get people coming up to me in the street and so forth and say hey are you going to build a new stadium next year, and my answer is no, I don't have the money for it, and it's not in the cards right now."

For the full audio from Emminger and Hamberger, see below:

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