There is some degree of shock in the news that state taxpayers are paying $850 million of the $1.4 billion needed to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
New York will commit $600 million in funds in a deal struck in time for Hochul to include it in the state budget. Erie County will commit $250 million to the project, while ultimately relinquishing control to a newly created state commission. Season ticket holders, meanwhile, will have to pay a one-time fee that will pay for much of the private part of the build.
That’s a lot of money for a state that still owes the federal government $9 billion to pay pandemic-related unemployment claims and is fighting tooth and nail against local governments called upon to deliver state programs. More frustrating is the fact that the $850 million cost to taxpayers could be much lower if the state did not require payment of prevailing wages on state-funded construction projects. where 30% of workers are unionized. The stadium deal then requires both union-level pay and a unionized workforce – limiting work to a minority of construction trades workers in the Western New York area. .
All of this comes at a cost to you, the taxpayer, of about $234 million, according to the Empire Center for New York State Policy. This kind of wasted money should at least come with a 15-yard penalty flag, but don’t look for one.
The Bills’ stadium deal is a great deal for the Bills and team owners Terry and Kim Pegula. It’s even better for unionized construction workers in an election year; an election year in which Hochul will need all the support it can get.
It’s a bad deal for taxpayers, made worse by the state’s blind loyalty to the project’s collective bargaining agreements and the unions that love them.