New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is visiting Western New York this week. One of his stops Tuesday afternoon was New Era Field.
Talks of building a new stadium has been a hot topic over the past year. Pegula Sports and Entertainment has sent out surveys and held focus groups to gather public input on the issue.
Heastie said they can’t do much right now until the Pegula’s make a decision on how they want to move forward.
“From an assembly standpoint, we want to be supportive of the Bills. We want to be supportive of the ownership and the Bills staying here,” Heastie said. “What that means, when the lease is up a few years from now, I don’t know what that answer is yet.”
Heastie was joined by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assemblyman Pat Burke, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The group believes New Era Field is fine from an engineering standpoint.
“I know there is a desire for a lot of teams and places to have an updated place,” Heastie said. “But I think that this stadium is in pretty good shape and the field looks beautiful.”
Heastie said he spoke with the Pegula’s earlier this year and expects communication to continue as they move forward with their decisions on the matter.
“When myself and the majority leader met with the Pegula’s earlier in the year, they clearly said it’s premature on anything,” he said. “They never said they wanted a new stadium.”
Poloncarz said whatever decision is made, it’s important to note Buffalo is not like other larger NFL markets.
“If you go to Santa Clara where Levi Stadium is where the San Francisco 49ers play, you can go and sit in a very nice restaurant, buy a couple steaks, have a wonderful bottle of some Pinot Noir from Napa Valley and put down $500. That’s not going to happen in our market,” Poloncarz said. “You’re not going to see those types of things that you see in other markets. But they do them because it generates more revenue for the team and the NFL.”
Poloncarz said that’s something all parties involved are taking in to account.