Frankly, it's surprising it took New York State governor Andrew Cuomo this long to advocate for private funding. At NFL meetings last week, several league owners made it known that a new stadium was key to keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western New York. Now, Cuomo says the Bills - and not the taxpayers of New York State - should pay for it.
"If we had to go to a new stadium, my opening position would be, ‘great. New stadium. Privately financed.' I agree that the less government money, the better - if we had to go in that direction in the first place," Cuomo told The Buffalo News.
The last part is rather interesting. "If we had to go in that direction" means Cuomo is willing to play games with the NFL, at least in the press, and is a direct contradiction to Roger Goodell, who just last week said a new stadium was necessary.
"Yes, I do [believe the Bills need a new stadium to remain viable]," Goodell told reporters in early May. "We said at the time when they entered into a new lease that this is really a short-term solution. We need to find the right long-term solution that's good for the community and can help the Bills to continue to be successful in western New York."
As part of his posturing, Cuomo sought any way to defend the withholding of state money. Even though it's flimsy, the governor brought up other areas of the state.
"Other parts of the state say ‘how about us?' There's an equity argument," Cuomo said.
This is classic misdirection on Cuomo's part. As the only NFL team in New York State, the Bills are the only team paying massive income taxes into the coffers in the state capitol - in addition to the economic impact of travel to games from out-of-state fans, as well as game day supply and merchandise sales. It should also be noted that the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders are all playing in arenas built in the last decade with taxpayer financing.
In the end, Cuomo has to know that New York State is going to be putting money into a new stadium, just as they did when Rich Stadium was built (not to mention every time it has been renovated). These conversations haven't yet taken place in the public view between the Bills and the state, but with more pressure coming from the league, you can expect for this talk to get louder, especially after the team is sold.
"But if it was essential, I would support it," Cuomo concluded. "Now, the devil is in the details. Where? How much? It's not just government money. It would be private money, also."
In one other update from Albany, Cuomo's top man on the new stadium working group - Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy - has announced he won't be running for re-election. Buffalo native Kathy Hochul has been tabbed as his successor on the democratic ticket, but it's unclear if Duffy would be replaced in the working group.