Tailgaters, taxpayers and many southtowns merchants could be the big losers if a new football stadium is built in downtown Buffalo, according to Orchard Park's top elected official.
Supervisor Patrick Keem is pushing for a study that would assess the economic toll that a stadium relocation would have on his town. Keem says he has spoken with many businesses who benefit from events at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"There's a lot of revenue that flows into our town," he said. "A lot of people stop on their way to the game to buy beverages, to buy food, pizza, subs."
There are also gas stations, satellite parking sites and other businesses that would be negatively affected if a football stadium is built downtown, Keem said.
But the supervisor insists town merchants wouldn't be the only losers if the Buffalo Bills eventually move to a city locale. He believes the three downtown sites mentioned in a state study would require a stadium to be "squished into" a location that would not bode well for tailgaters.
"Tailgating is part of the culture of going to a Bills game," said Keem, who is a lifelong Bills fan and a longtime season ticket holder.
"Then there's the issue of traffic and infrastructure -- getting in and out of the stadium," the supervisor added. "We have good access to a lot of roads."
Keem was reacting to a state study released this week that put downtown sites in the Cobblestone District, Exchange Street and South Park Avenue on a short-list of preferred locations if a new stadium is ultimately built. The study also suggests that renovating or reconstructing the Orchard Park facility would also be viable.
Orchard Park officials had no input during the study process, Keem claimed.
Taxpayers should be a top priority as planners mull stadium options, Keem said, noting that relocating the stadium might require substantial subsidies.
"Every tax dollar is precious," he said.