This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but a lockout won’t save Buffalo taxpayers any money.
No, a long-term work stoppage won’t cause Ralph Wilson Stadium to disappear. The venue will still require maintenance and Erie County will still have to foot the bill. From the Buffalo News:
Season or no season, taxpayers will still help the Bills maintain the county-owned Ralph Wilson Stadium, which the team may use for its sole profit.
If the Bills play no games this year, the team will not charge Erie County for game-day expenses, said the Bills’ treasurer, Jeffrey C. Littmann, from his Michigan office.
But the Bills will charge for operating expenses to maintain the stadium, even if it’s idled by a lockout. Operating expenses make up the majority of those game-day and operating costs — about $2.5 million, or 62 percent, of the $4 million, Littmann said.
When the Bills started playing occasional home games in Toronto, the team still had plenty of operating expenses to claim to cover their allotment for both game-day and operating support. “We have a responsibility and a duty to maintain the building, and we will do that,” Littmann said.
I’m one who believes that public money shouldn’t be used to cover stadium costs, period. That said, this isn’t pushing me onto a soapbox, mainly because Littmann is right. The stadium will still be in need of upkeep, and at the end of the day we’re not talking about an earth-shattering amount of money.
And the Bills aren’t your ordinary professional sports team. They need local support, and that’s something the locals typically understand. County executive Chris Collins called the team “part and parcel of the soul of this community,” and he’s bang-on. The Bills mean more to Buffalo than most major sports teams do to their cities.
To keep the team healthy, these payments are probably — and unfortunately — necessary.