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State's Luxury 'Suite' Deal Quite a Perk

By Tony Farina

Sam Hoyt will go to the Buffalo
Bills' games in style.

Are the Buffalo Bills really a hot ticket?

The answer, except for diehard Bills fans, is probably no.
Consider the numbers: the Bills haven’t had a winning season since 2004; the team has missed the playoffs for 13 straight years, the longest playoff drought in the NFL; and the Bills’ win – loss record over the last six years in 36 – 60.

But despite all that, the Bills still have appeal beyond the faithful.

It seems the Cuomo administration wants to be able to promote the state at home games courtesy of a 12-seat luxury box to entertain guests. The “suite” deal, and it is sweet, was negotiated into the new $130 million agreement to renovate the aging stadium and keep the team here for a few more years.

Under the sweet “suite” deal, one of the governor’s authorities, Empire State Development, will control the luxury box and usher in the favored politicians and public officials to their private accommodations at the stadium, all in the name of promotion.

Empire State Development is controlled locally by a top Cuomo promoter and cheerleader Sam Hoyt.

If all of this seems a little untidy, or maybe seedy is a better word, that’s because it is. The taxpayers are forking over $95 million to fix up the stadium and now the state is getting a juicy perk at the publicly owned Ralph to butter up their friends in the name of promotion.

It goes to show, first of all, that even a bad team has certain appeal, especially if you are being pampered and fed in a luxury suite while the faithful in the stands hoist away and try to stay warm in the often hostile weather to watch the Bills go listlessly through the motions.

The administration says that in some cases, which aren’t specified, public officials would have to pay the face value of a luxury box seat, but who knows if that will really happen. The Bills, as usual, won’t say anything about the deal and seem quite content with the $95 million in public money going into the stadium to put on a new face to a 40-year-old crumbling façade.

One former state lawmaker, Richard Brodsky, is critical of the “suite” arrangement, telling the New York Times “no government agency needs to lease a luxury suite to market upstate New York.”

Brodsky, not one known to hold his tongue in criticizing state agencies and authorities, said the state should buy tickets if it needs them, noting “the cost of the luxury suite is being paid by the taxpayer, remember that.”

But all will be forgotten as the season approaches and the face-lift is completed. Fans will focus on praying for a winner and will pay little mind to the warm cats in the luxury box who most certainly will be anxious to help upstate New York with dollars and ideas after witnessing the antics on the field and in the stands as disgruntled fans make their displeasure known.
Maybe it will work, but it still looks and smells a little unseemly.




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar26, 2013