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Paladino: Downtown Bills stadium would reduce costs, add 'vibrancy'

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Developer Carl Paladino says the Buffalo Bills should be playing their future football games in a domed stadium on a site immediately adjacent to KeyBank Center. There is a study underway looking at potential sites, from what the developer is proposing to a new stadium in Orchard Park, perhaps next to the current facility.

Paladino is reopening a debate from a half-century ago, which tore the community apart in the fight over a new stadium: the so-called Crossroads site downtown or a dome stadium in Lancaster. Eventually,the decision made to choose the current site on Orchard Park.

The developer's current proposal is what is called the Cobblestone District site, running east between Scott and Perry streets in Buffalo. Paladino said there are ways to cut the suggested $1 billion cost of a new stadium.

"A great part of that cost is building the parking that would be necessary to support the stadium," Paladino said. "If we're smart, we'll recognize that there's 20,000 parking spaces in downtown Buffalo that are not really occupied during any periods of time that there are football games."

Paladino's Ellicott Development is a major investor in downtown, including parking, and sees a downtown stadium as good for everyone. The owner said using existing parking and the Metro Rail would spread around visitors, both arriving and departing. He said not building 20,000 parking spaces in ramps would knock hundreds of millions of dollars off the potential cost of the facility.

Paladino said bringing the cost down allows for a domed stadium.

"An affordable dome, because I am giving that answer on a major part of the cost of building a dome stadium," he said. "A billion dollars to build a stadium and its required support parking, you can save a couple hundred million dollars by building it on that site and taking advantage of the rapid transit system."

Paladino said a stadium would also bring new vibrancy to downtown.

"It brings a vibrancy to the restaurants and to the other facilties in downtown Buffalo," Paladino said. "It probably would encourage a lot of people from out of town to come, stay in downtown Buffalo in the hotels and patronize the games and then take the train back to their home or to their hotel room or their restaurant."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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