A county official has ripped the NFL's "multibillionaire" owners as greedy for pushing a new stadium in Buffalo.
New York Giants owner John Mara and Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told the Buffalo News this week at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., that the Bills will be financially disadvantaged long-term if they do not replace Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Erie County (N.Y.) executive Mark Poloncarz responded with strong words on the issue.
"I go back to what I said a couple of years ago," Poloncarz told WGRZ-TV in Buffalo on Thursday. "If the NFL is gonna talk about the viability of the team in Buffalo, then show me the books. We know the team is viable in Buffalo. We know it's successful here. But what this is is not a question of the viability of the team in Buffalo. What this is is a question of the other owners who truthfully are trying to reap as much dollars as they can.
"They're multibillionaires, folks. They don't care about the people of this community. They don't care about the Buffalo Bills. All you have to do is ask the people in St. Louis. Do they care about the St. Louis Rams? No. St. Louis bent over backwards to try to keep their team and then they lost them. They're now going back to Los Angeles."
Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who voted to approve the Rams' move to Los Angeles, have slowed down talks of a new stadium since purchasing the Bills in late 2014.
Ralph Wilson Stadium, which opened in 1973 and is the third-oldest stadium in the NFL, has not undergone a full-scale renovation. The venue underwent a $130 million face-lift prior to the 2014 season. The Bills, as part of their 2012 stadium lease negotiations with Erie County, contributed $35 million to the smaller renovation.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly stated, most recently in January 2015, that the Bills need a new stadium to compete with new facilities in other NFL cities.
Poloncarz said the Bills remain viable long-term in Buffalo and that a new stadium is not a necessary investment right now.
"To billionaires, I think the difference between tens of millions of dollars means nothing," Poloncarz said. "That's the sad part. We're not talking about individuals who are bringing home 50 or 70 thousand dollars a year. They're probably making $50,000 a minute. And for them, the difference between $40 million and $80 million is a drop in the bucket. For any normal human being, the difference between 40 and 80 million dollars is life-changing, is everything that some people hope for and success you could never have. For individuals who are making thousands of dollars a minute, they don't care about what happens in this community, they just want to make more money.
"Mr. Pegula wouldn't have invested all the money to buy that team if he thought they were going to lose millions of dollars annually. They don't lose millions of dollars annually. They're a successful organization. I'm just disappointed that out-of-area billionaires that do not care about Buffalo, that do not care about Erie County, that do not care about Western New York or New York State, are trying to force something on the community that is not needed now.
"No one said that we're going to totally be in that stadium for 50 or 60 years. Eventually you're going to have to replace the stadium. But there's no need to do it now. And for the NFL to be pushing and saying, 'You needed a new stadium a few years ago,' goes against everything that we know is the truth."