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Where's the stadium deal promised before the state budget deadline?

Highmark Stadium at night
Buffalo Bills

New York State's budget is a week away from its deadline and there's still no sign of a deal on a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz doesn't seem worried.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Lackawanna, the county executive said he likes the position the county is in and wouldn't go further than that in discussing stadium talks.

Poloncarz knows Gov. Kathy Hochul promised to have something done by completion of the budget. There is also some public screaming and shouting downstate about the stadium, saying it's too much money for Buffalo.

He said the big problem is that this is a complicated bargaining, not like a decade ago, when it was just renovations for the current stadium.

"We were able to resolve a lot of issues. But I'm going to remind everybody this is not just a discussion on the construction of the stadium, but a long-term lease and everything which goes along with it," Poloncarz said. "So people, like, well I haven't see all of the terms yet. Well, not all of the terms have been agreed upon. I think we're at a much better position than we were just a couple of months ago. I will leave it up to the Bills to make a determination on what they are going to discuss at the ownership meeting, but I like our position right now."

The owners are meeting, starting this weekend in Palm Beach. Poloncarz said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been deeply involved in the negotiations, including participation in some Zoom calls.

The county executive said the two basic goals are to keep the Bills and not lose them, as Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis have.

"It's a kind of negotiation that you don't want to screw it up. It's as simple as that," Poloncarz said. "I talk to some of my colleagues across the country, including in the communities that lost their football teams, and they understand they're probably never getting an NFL football team back. And if they're getting an NFL football team, it's probably like ours."

Asked about possible development around a new stadium, Poloncarz said that's a ways down the line.

"It's premature to have that conversation until we actually have announced the deal and we say here's where it's going and here's how long it is and the issues associated with it," he said. "So I think it's a little premature to have those conversations and I'll remind everybody, the goal is to get a new stadium built. If we get a new stadium built, it's not going to open next year. It's going to take a number of years because of the sheer size of this construction project."

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.