Tonawanda News

March 27, 2013

Stadium proposal

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, who is also a political science professor at Canisius College, is using research gathered by several of his students to further explore a proposal to build a $1.4 billion waterfront football stadium in Buffalo. 

Hardwick, R-Tonawanda, said he will utilize the information collected by the team of five Canisius students from a public administration class he teaches to form a resolution in the legislature next month that calls for a 12-month land option for a development proposal in the Buffalo Outer Harbor. 

Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex, a development company partly run by a former county water authority chairperson, first broached building a stadium in the harbor in October. The proposal included a 100-acre site, a stadium with a retractable dome, park land and a convention center. 

The proposal comes as the the Buffalo Bills, the county and New York state recently signed a new lease agreement to share funding millions of dollars in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. Yet the students — Olivia Hill, Thomas Khansari, Stephanie McGrath, Marissa Pietras and Kevin Pope — say that the land controlled in the harbor by the Niagara Frontier Regional Transportation Authority has sat vacant for decades. They also posit that bringing a stadium to the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Buffalo could have far reaching economic benefits that are not being considered. 

“Although there is work that still needs to be done in the development of this project, as a group we believe the potential outcome merits more inquiry and the land option granted to GSBEC,” said Hill, a student who took part in the research.

Hill said the group of students started the query to determine if the the development project would receive public support. 

“Although we are skeptical about parts of the proposal, we have agreed that the group proposing this stadium, Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex, LLC, should be granted a nine to 12 month option on the land currently held by the NFTA for further investigation and development,” Hill said.

Hardwick said he compiled the students’ report into a resolution that he will submit before the legislature on April 11. The resolution calls for GSBEC to be allowed to obtain the land option from the NFTA for exploration and development of a downtown stadium.

“This was a unique class project and I am extremely proud of the work of my students,” he said. “There is certainly an upside to the GSBEC’s proposal and if we were able to turn the corner this could be big. By allowing the land option, we would have answers to the many lingering questions within a year and have a better understanding to move forward.”