Erie County Executive: Legislators updated ‘all along’ on new Bills stadium community benefits agreement talks

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WGRZ/WHEC) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz insisted on Thursday that County Legislators, appointed to be members of a negotiating team for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) as part of a new Buffalo Bills stadium deal have been kept abreast of negotiations, despite concerns recently raised by some of them about communication.

In April, Poloncarz went before the County Legislature to present the new Buffalo Bills stadium Memorandum of Understanding reached to by the Bills, New York State, and Erie County.

"He did say at that meeting formally that he would convene a meeting the following week and now as you can see, we are in the middle of July and we have not met," Erie County Legislature chair April Baskin said.

Baskin, who expressed her concerns to WGRZ on July 9, noted that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) indicated that a stadium deal needed to be formalized by September. She says she recently wrote a letter to Poloncarz, requesting there be a meeting, and that it was one of many times she’s requested a meeting with herself and the other two legislators he’s appointed to the CBA negotiation team.

"We’re looking at millions upon millions of dollars from the general public to make this new stadium come to fruition. The component of the new stadium deal that outlines what the benefits are going to be for their investment has to be prioritized. And I have been asking for that for almost a year now," Baskin said.

“I talked to April, she knows exactly where we stand. We’ve been talking for months, it’s as simple as that,” Poloncarz said after attending a ribbon-cutting Thursday for the new Say Yes Buffalo headquarters on Jefferson Avenue.

Asked if lawmakers had been left out of the loop, Poloncarz responded “no.”

As for concerns about a September deadline approaching, Poloncarz said, “that’s the stated date (on the MOU) but it doesn’t mean it has to be wrapped up, and there are lots of things that have happened that delayed the process.”

“The document also says it can be extended if the parties are still in the process of talking and so that’s exactly what we’re going to do. It doesn’t have to be done by September. We’ve got time,” Poloncarz said.

As for Baskin saying she’s heard nothing back about her request for a meeting with she and the other appointed legislators, Poloncarz insisted, “They have been advised all along on the status of the negotiations. They may not appreciate the timing, but they’ve been advised.”