Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yortown, Westchester County, knocked $60 million in the state budget to help the Buffalo Bills, saying, “You’re talking about essentially a handful of people who will go to this stadium eight days out of the year.”
Katz spoke last night on the Assembly floor as lawmakers debated their one-house budget plans. The fiscal year starts April 1.
“Aren’t they wealthy enough that they can handle their own operating support? Why are we doing this for them?” Katz asked.
Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Denny Farrell, D-Manhattan, defended the expense, saying it is important to keep the western New York team in town.
“You know, the New York Giants said that one day and now they’re the New Jersey Giants. They made a lot of money, but they decided they could make it someplace else,” Farrell said. “Buffalo is the same thing. I don’t know how much money they’re making, but there is a lot of questions as to where they could go and make more. So we’re working very hard to make sure we keep them because I don’t want to get beat up because they left Buffalo.”
Katz questioned the $60 million, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in December as part of a 10-year agreement to upgrade the stadium and assure the team stays in Buffalo.
“I don’t see that this is the financial boon to the city of Buffalo,” Katz continued. “Honestly, no offense intended to my colleagues up in Buffalo, but why would us, with all the needs our state needs, to be giving $60 million to billionaires who can more than afford all of this?”
Farrell mentioned Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who moved the team to Los Angeles in the 1950s. He said the Bills are important to the city’s revitalization and the $60 million is a small piece of the state’s $141 billion budget.