The Buffalo Bills’ existing stadium in Orchard Park.

The Buffalo Bills’ existing stadium in Orchard Park. Credit: AP/Joshua Bessex

Daily Point

Parsing the Buffalo Bills deal

As lawmakers are pushing past the April 1 deadline to agree upon a new state budget, the top question mark remains Gov. Kathy Hochul’s controversial plan to provide $880 million in state funds over a 30-year period toward a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Friday morning, dozens of advocacy organizations, including progressive groups and others, sent a letter to legislative leaders asking them not to approve the Bills deal, saying it’s bad for the state economy.

The Point examined the memorandum of understanding between the Bills, Erie County and the Erie County Stadium Corporation, or ECSC, a division of the state’s economic development arm. And many of those details in the small print also benefit the Bills, who garner all of the revenue and perks behind the new stadium.

  • The new stadium will include the sale of personal seat licenses, which give purchasers the right to buy and hold season tickets. Any proceeds from PSLs will offset the Bills’ part of the project costs.
  • The Bills will have full naming rights of the new stadium and will retain all revenue from naming rights, in addition to advertising, concessions, and all other revenue streams. While no one can predict what that deal will be worth, UBS reportedly paid $350 million for a 20-year naming rights deal on the New York Islanders’ UBS Arena. Smaller markets might garner less, but some National Football League teams have gotten even more.
  • Despite letting the Bills pocket the big check, the MOU does include some specific guardrails on the naming rights themselves. The name, the MOU said, must not “unreasonably cause embarrassment to the County or ECSC (such as names containing slang, barbarisms or profanity; names that could be construed to encourage the use of beer or other alcoholic beverages by minors or the use of tobacco by persons of any age; or names that relate to illegal drugs or any sexually oriented business or enterprise).”
  • The Bills, the state and the county will negotiate a community benefits agreement, but the provisions don’t include big-ticket items like infrastructure dollars or economic benefits to the surrounding community. Instead, the MOU offers token giveaways like using the stadium for five civic events per year, granting use of a suite for Erie County for tourism or economic development purposes, donating tickets or parking passes, or instituting other charitable efforts.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

The blurring of LI’s battle lines

Since the state’s Democratic leaders are now appealing a Republican judge’s move on Thursday to dump their redistricting plan for legislative races already underway, New York’s political world on Friday was in its expected state of doubt if not a bit of confusion.

First, there were nominating petitions to consider, the legality of which are based on which voters live in each of the state’s 213 state legislative districts and 26 congressional districts. “Keep calm and petition on,” was one informal slogan spread among Nassau Democrats who spoke with The Point,on the expectation that the redistricting plan will be upheld on appeal. The same advice was issued by party leaders in Suffolk.

The deadline period for filing petitions is between Monday and Thursday of next week. If the primary is ultimately put off and if lines are amended, the party machinery for nominations must get some kind of restart.

Some Long Island political minds are already wondering and speculating several steps ahead. Will CD3 become something other than a puzzle piece centered on the Long Island Sound that trails across five counties? And if revised, how would that affect the candidacy of left-leaning off-Island Democrat Alessandra Biaggi?

Will Republicans have an improved shot at keeping two House members from Suffolk in CD1 and CD2 rather than just the one? Could some centrist incumbent Democrats actually benefit from a GOP-influenced map? It’s impossible to tell for sure.

What’s clear for now is that State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister’s ruling in Steuben County prescribes unusual lines of action for state officials to follow. He says that the legislature should go back and redraw the maps in a way that receives “bipartisan support” in both houses.

McAllister says the Independent Redistricting Commission, which depended on bipartisan cooperation, failed to do its job by never settling on a single, compromise set of maps. The deadline for the rewrite is April 11; if it passes without action, McAllister would assign an independent master to redraw lines.

One redistricting wonk, Steven Stowitts Elliott, a political scientist and former staff member of the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, tweeted this interesting query after the ruling: “I am curious. What constitutional doctrine permits a judge to order the legislature to vote in a bipartisan way?”

When it comes to redistricting, the lines of governmental authority at this New York moment are as hazy as the future of the map plan now in the courts.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

Temporary relief

Credit: San Diego Union-Tribune/Steve Breen

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Puzzle Point

In the news

Welcome to this week’s news quiz, based on events that took place this week. As usual, provide the answer for each clue, one letter per blank. The first letter of each answer, taken in order, spells the name of the U.S. senator who when asked about Congress delivering significant climate finance for developing nations said, “It’s very important to our credibility.” If the U.S. comes up short, the senator said, “then we’d look like jerks.”

A link to the answers appears below.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   Long Island town that approved a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers between May 20 and Sept. 20.

_ _ _ _ _ _   Telescope that detected the most distant star ever seen, 50 to 100 times larger than our sun and 12.9 billion light-years away.

_ _ _   Ukraine warned its negotiators not to do this at peace talks with Russia, because of concerns about poisoning attempts.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   President Joe Biden signed a bill making this a federal hate crime, more than 100 years after such legislation was first proposed.

_ _ _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _   Politician who recently posted in a news release that he had gotten a hole-in-one golfing with professional Ernie Els.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   A ransomware attack on the LIRR’s timekeeping system has left some employees waiting up to 10 months to receive this kind of pay.

_ _ _   College that announced that singer Taylor Swift will address its commencement next month at Yankee Stadium and receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _   National retail chain that announced that some of its stores will no longer sell cigarettes.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   Dutch brewery group that announced it was pulling out of Russia.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   City hosting the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

_ _ _ _ _   Automaker that announced a second stock split in less than two years.

_ _ _ _ _ _   Geographic bloc that faced a Friday deadline for having Russian natural gas cut off if it didn’t start paying for the gas in rubles.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   LI town whose board of appeals delayed a vote on a variance for a retaining wall because of its proximity to a bald eagle nest.

_ _ _ _ _ _   CVS and pharmaceutical companies will pay Florida $860 million to settle a case dealing with this epidemic.

_ _ _ _   Gig drivers led a caravan over the Brooklyn Bridge to this company’s Manhattan headquarters demanding it add a fuel surcharge to customers’ fares to cover drivers’ rising costs.

_ _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _ _ _   The first GOP senator to confirm an upcoming yes vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson.

_ _ _ _ _   The number of members of Suffolk County’s new bipartisan redistricting commission; also, the number of teams left in college basketball tournaments.

Click here for the answers to the clued words and to the identity of the mystery senator.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie