Football season hasn’t started, but one big report released on Sunday night may be the biggest story of the upcoming season: the Buffalo Bills may become the Austin Bills.
The Buffalo Bills’ owners, the state of New York, and Erie County authorities have begun preliminary negotiations as officials evaluate the team’s proposal to build a new NFL stadium. Their intentions are clear: they want new infrastructure.
The team’s owners, Pegula Sports, and Entertainment have proposed a $1.5 billion plan for a new stadium in Orchard Park as well as funding for certain renovations to the Pegulas’ NHL Sabres facility in downtown Buffalo.
With this, the renovations and the total cost of the new stadium will be covered by the public, an unprecedented approach to new stadiums in the NFL. Never in the history of the league has a stadium been built with 100% of taxpayers’ money.
Groups opposed to large injections of government funds for private-sector transactions are already mobilizing their opposition. Some Democrats in Albany, who control the State Legislature and routinely criticize so-called “corporate welfare” initiatives, are already sharing their worries.
If the Bills don’t get what they want, they are threatening to leave the city of Buffalo and relocate somewhere else, perhaps a city willing to pay for the new infrastructure.
According to ProFootball Focus and ESPN, Austin, Texas is being seriously considered to be the Bills’ new home, the Lone Star State already has 2 football teams, the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys.
It is not the first time a team has considered a Texas city for its possible move. Reports arose when the Oakland Raiders were planning to move from the West Coast that the city of San Antonio was leveraged as a possible destination, before eventually deciding to move to Las Vegas. At the moment, nor the Cowboys or the Texans are thrilled about the possibility of a third team moving to their state.
As of now, negotiations are happening between the city of Buffalo and the Bills owners, so it’s too early to call if the team may end up moving at all, but in the case it happens, Texas taxpayers will be giving a lot of money to private businesses just in order to be able to have a new NFL franchise.
The $1.5 billion plan proposed by the team, which is how much will Texas need to invest approximately, is the nominal price of what the I-10 Katy Freeway Expansion (Interstate 10 in Texas) cost was projected in 2001. It is one of Texas’s biggest and most expensive infrastructure projects.