NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – A prominent New York City developer with ties to Niagara Falls is among the parties interested in buying the Buffalo Bills.
Sources tell News 4 that Howard Milstein is interested in purchasing the team. Milstein, who is chairman of the NYS Thruway Authority, owns 400 parcels in downtown Niagara Falls, which is one of the sites being considered for a new Bills stadium by a state task force.
The news of Milstein’s interest came the day before the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation unveiled its five-year strategic plan, and it made the Buffalo Bills a part of their discussion.
John Percy, head of the Falls tourism board, beams at the thought of moving the team to Niagara Falls.
“I think it would be a great opportunity for the falls and just another catalyst to get us to move forward.”
Milstein is primary owner of Niagara Falls Redevelopment, which owns about 140-acres of land where the old Nabisco plant is, east of the casino.
“It’s strategically positioned, the land. Close to downtown Niagara Falls and close to the Falls, so I would think there would be some type of use for that land for the stadium or a potential stadium,” Percy said.
Board members and lawmakers believe bringing the Bills to the Falls would be a good thing, but Milstein’s investment into the area raises questions, considering how long the land has sat vacant.
Mayor Paul Dyster says it’s partially because of a dispute with the Seneca Nation of Indians.
“The settlement of the casino issue between New York State and the Senecas takes Milstein’s parcel off the list of potential sites for a state-licensed casino. So speculation is that may mean there’s a window of opportunity to talk about redevelopment of that property,” he explained.
Dyster says the city has been in contact with Milstein’s team about the development of a 6,000 to 8,000-seat stadium. Those conversations are different from the discussion of a new Bills stadium.
“I think that it’ll be interesting to see how the resolution of the casino dispute impacts the development of that property,” Dyster said.
Percy added, “If people aren’t doing it then let’s get to them and find out why they’re not doing it and finally get people to move off their foundations and get things accomplished because its happening.”
Dyster says a study will soon be conducted, surveying potential sites around Western New York that would be best suited for a stadium. It may not be Niagara Falls, after all.
“I think it would be helpful to have answers to some of these questions: Fow suitable is a Niagara Falls location for the Bills? In the end, I think what we’re going to end up with is a set of options rather than a final decision,” Dyster said.
The stadium study will likely be finished three months from its start date.