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The Pegulas Asked For Their Handout At Just The Right Time

Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Because New York City has finally solved the conundrum of vaccinations in the workplace by declaring Kyrie Irving immune to all diseases known and not yet discovered, the rest of New York state could spend its time figuring out how to give Terry and Kim Pegula $850 million. It finally managed to figure out a plan today, with only three catches; the plan has to be approved by people inclined to approve it, the money has to be spent on a new stadium for Terry ‘n Kim’s Buffalo Bills, and they have to invite Bills fans to the new house whenever they play.

The going rate for stadium extortion must be $850 million since that was the number the state of Nevada thought Mark Davis could use for the Las Vegas Raiders’ new digs, but let’s be honest here (as opposed to being the lying hyenas we usually are) and admit that your average $850 million taxpayer swagorama stretches a lot further in upstate New York than it does in downstate Nevada. In other words, the Raiders got half a football stadium. The Bills could have gotten most of Erie and Cattaraugus Counties.

Why this is a matter for the state has been long debated and in many places rejected as an act of governmental nitwittery, but in New York, where everything else is idyllic and nothing ever goes wrong, it was simply the Bills’ turn. The team had become watchable and the governor was a neighborhood kid. That’s how you get your turn in modern America—it’s not just who you know, but who knows you.

The labyrinth of bureaucratic approvals have reached the show-or-go stage with a deadline of, you guessed it, April Fool’s Day, and governor Kathy Hochul, who was born in Buffalo (not her fault) and built her political power base there (definitely her fault) has been driving this particular obelisk through the state budget process. It is expected to pass because, as the Bloomberg board of vampires tells us, New York is currently loaded with money to blow on frivolities because of soaring tax revenues and $26 billion in federal aid. Hell, by those standards, $850 million is gum money, if people still bothered with gum, which they mostly don’t.

Terry ‘n Kim’s share of the $1.4 billion project before state and private investment-mandated overruns is a mere $350 million once you include a $200 million stadium loan from the NFL. And they will no doubt make the stadium the centerpiece of their “Please Forget That We Ruined The Sabres” campaign. They will certainly be in the middle of the frame when credit is to be distributed (and absent with leave if credit turns to blame) because stadiums are how owners define winning and losing.

But to the extent that making taxpayers from other parts of the state pay for your amusement park is victory, the real stars are not in Erie County, or even the state house in Albany, but Fresno, Calif., where Josh Allen was spawned and raised, and Laramie, Wyo., where he was developed. Without him, Sean McDermott is just another mope who failed in Buffalo like Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, and Anthony Lynn, and the picnic table industry in upstate New York is as depressed as so much of the rest of the economy. This is the stadium Josh Allen built, just as the Warriors’ home is the arena Stephen Curry built. Winning builds interest, which leads to whining about inadequate digs, which leads to owners and politicians looking for a non-substantive cause to solve with other people’s money. All we say is, Josh better get his taste, too.

Anyway, a new stadium for Buffalo. Why the hell not? Not that the people who live there deserve one less than anywhere else, but it just reminds us all that no matter what they might need, Terry ‘n Kim need it more. But maybe as an offering to those citizens who might have thought there were civic projects more worthy of the $850 million, they’ll revisit the best moment in Buffalo stadium history—2020, when a mini-toilet maker offered a naming rights deal that was scotched by an elected clod because it might embarrass the community. We have watched Bills fans for years, and embarrassment is never on their list of concerns. They’ve got Terry ‘n Kim to cover that.