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Skepticism raised about Bills, Golisano & Congel
West Seneca, N.Y. -- The first reports surfaced on Wednesday. They linked billionaire Tom Golisano and his possible interest in buying the Buffalo Bills to Scott Congel, a mall developer who might team up with Golisano to build a new stadium at a mall site Congel's company owns.
The site is in the Town of West Seneca, barely a 10-minute drive from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. The Seneca Mall used to occupy that site, but it was torn down. For many years, neighbors have complained about a lack of attention and development paid to the shopping plaza that is now only home to a Tops grocery store and Kmart.
"This needs to be built up," said shopper Danielle Nashwinter. "There are other things that you could do with it."
But talk about a football stadium at that site isn't something people are embracing at this time.
"No, that's stupid," said shopper Gail Argauer of that possibility. "Keep it where it is."
Congel reportedly has spoken to local officials about all sorts of possibilities at The Shops at West Seneca site. Development plans include housing options, restaurants, retail, and a movie theater with meeting space, two hotels with one being 10 stories tall, and one or two town community centers.
West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan said the town was never part of any conversations about an NFL stadium at the site. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said his office has not been part of any stadium conversations with Congel or Golisano, but he suggested the Buffalo Bills should be part of any conversations if they are to occur.
Reports about the future of the Bills and even a future stadium are becoming too frequent and too obscure for most fans to pay them much attention.
"They want to put it in Canada, this guy wants to put it in West Seneca, it is so ridiculous, really, it really is," said Mike Kapsiak.
Kapsiak is a retired police officer who has lived just down the street from Ralph Wilson Stadium for the last 30 years. He's obviously a fan and he even earns a few bucks each season selling parking space on his land to fans on game day.
"It doesn't pay all the bills, but it helps," said Kapsiak.
The West Seneca location doesn't make sense to Kapsiak for a number of reasons.
"I used to go to the mall there and then they tore it down and didn't put anything in its place," said Kapsiak. "They don't have the room, and I know some people that live in that area and they're not too happy either."
How seriously people take these recent reports depends on more than their perception of the properties involved. A $130 million renovation project is underway at Ralph Wilson Stadium this offseason. The team signed a 10-year lease with Erie County and New York state in December. Building a brand-new NFL stadium anywhere in the region is a process that takes at least few years and could be stalled for any number of reasons.
"No, I don't think they're going anywhere," said Kapsiak. "I really don't."