Tonawanda News

March 6, 2014

Polancarz picks Bills group

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has named his seven representatives to a group aimed at exploring options for where the Buffalo Bills will play home games once their current 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium expires.

As part of the lease agreement signed last year extending the team's tenure at the Ralph for another decade, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressed for a three-way committee comprised of seven people each, representing the Bills, New York state and Erie County to explore options for a new stadium or continued renovation of the existing one. Cuomo last month named the first five members of the state's portion of the working group, including Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

In addition to naming himself, Poloncarz has appointed:

• Deputy Erie County Executive Richard Tobe.

• Former legislator and County Planning Commissioner Maria R. Whyte.

• Former U.S. Rep Kathleen Hochul, now vice president of M&T Bank.

• Michael Joseph, president of Clover Management, Inc.

• Alphonso O’Neil-White, retired president and CEO of HealthNow New York Inc.

• Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

“The individuals who will be representing Erie County in the upcoming stadium discussions are all fervent Bills fans and Erie County residents, as well as community members who are cognizant of the economic realities facing Erie County and the business realities of the National Football League,” Poloncarz said. “The Bills have been a vital part of our community fabric for over 50 years, and we look forward to working with our counterparts from the governor’s and the Bills’ selections to the New Stadium Working Group as we cement the long-term future of the Bills here in Erie County.”

The stadium commission will explore all possible options for where the Bills could play once the present lease deal at Ralph Wilson Stadium expires. That could include further renovations to the aging Orchard Park facility — one of the league's oldest venues — or a new stadium in Orchard Park, on the Buffalo Outer Harbor or elsewhere.

The working group is advisory in nature but given the close ties between members from all sides, it's likely to serve as a proxy group for negotiations over any possible new stadium. 

Poloncarz said last week he expects meetings to begin in the coming months to start addressing the host of issues regarding the team's long-term future in Western New York.

The Bills have not named their representatives.

Polancarz selects Bills stadium group