There has been a whole lot of talk about the new Bills Stadium, where it should be located, and how much it's going to cost. Everyone has an opinion, and rightfully so, the Buffalo Bills are a major part of our community.

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As the powers that be get closer to a finalized stadium deal, there are many in the Buffalo area that wants to ensure that the Buffalo and its residents something out of the deal beyond a shiny new stadium.

Quite a few community stakeholders, including Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature April Baskin, are pushing for the Buffalo Bills to sign a Community Benefits Agreement that would ensure that residents of Western New York see some defined economic benefit for its potential $1 Billon investment. This of course raises the question, what exactly is a Community Benefits Agreement, and what would it consist of?

What is a Community Benefits Agreement?

According to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a Community Benefits Agreement is

A contract between a developer and community-based organizations representing residents’ interests. The agreement spells out the benefits the community will receive in return for supporting the developer’s project in their neighborhood. CBAs often includes benefits such as guaranteed minimums for local hiring, inclusion of affordable units in new housing, and the development or improvement of parks or community facilities. These agreements can help ensure more equitable development, enabling existing residents to benefit from new activity and opportunities in neighborhoods threatened by gentrification and displacement.

Should the Buffalo Bills sign a Community Benefits Agreement?

Most modern sports stadium projects that use public money have some sort of Community Benefits Agreement attached to them. The new Basketball Arena in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Clippers Buffalo Braves, which is expected to open in 2024, has a Community Benefits Agreement attached to it. So does PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins play. So it seems not unreasonable to require one for the Bills.

There is a proposed Community Benefits Agreement that has been circulating that would require, among other things, the new construction to ensure that local Minority and Women-Owned Businesses hiring goals are met, creation and expansion of public transportation to and from the stadium, and a requirement that the Bills work to address the most basic needs of a disadvantaged in our communities.

I think that the Buffalo Bills should happily agree to a Community Benefits Agreement, especially since they're going to use around $1 billion of our tax dollars.

What do you think? You can read the proposed Community Benefits Agreement here.

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