The designers of the Titletown complex in Green Bay could help the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce.
ORCHARD PARK, NY – While the focus is on the Buffalo Tickets with their training and pre-season preparations, some might consider their new stadium funded in part by taxpayers for the future.
And still others can think longer term about what else could happen around the stadium with potential new development to make it more of a destination venue with regional marketing.
Don Lorentz, executive director of the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce, put it this way: “It would be great for our community if when people come to the first game they can actually say, ‘We’re going to stay for the weekend. end, we’re ‘going to stay for a week,’ and have activities for our families.”
This vision of Lorentz as he envisions what could come beyond a new stadium and perhaps sweep away the current isolation of underutilized land around and near the stadium complex.
Erie County Legislator John Mills, who represents Orchard Park, said he provided Lorentz and the Chamber of Commerce with $50,000 in county funding to help defray the cost of a study of economic development.
Lorentz is one of three county lawmakers negotiating with the county executive, the state and the Bills organization on a $100 million community benefits deal tied to the stadium project. These discussions are strictly private at the request of County Manager Mark Poloncarz and attorneys.
Lorentz envisions both the retail, office and service concept of Patriot Place, as we showed you earlier, around Gillette Stadium in the much larger Boston market.
But in reality, the Titletown development built around Lambeau Field in Green Bay may be closer to reality. He is already in contact with their planners.
“They’re both suburban stadiums, just like we’re going to have, and they’re successful 12 months out of the year,” Lorentz said. “They attract people all year round. I say why not build on their success and make it the hub and then from here we expand into the area?
“They provided me with some of their strategic plans that they made for me to review, and it’s a perfect plan. So my focus would be, can I contact the same companies that they used and can Maybe have them come up with the same type of strategic plan or a similar type for Orchard Park?”
Lorentz also has an idea of a place, but it’s not just around the stadium. Lorentz suggests land directly opposite the existing Quaker Crossing shopping complex on Milestrip Road.
“Build across from there,” Lorentz said. “Build a nice hotel, a museum, everything else, and you’ll be within walking distance of the stadium, or we can fly people to the stadium from there.”
He suggests the development could then run on a parallel track, while the new $1.4 billion stadium is being built so both can be ready to open in 2026.
“I’ve talked to some of the developers, and if we take it out of county or state ownership, they have the opportunity to be able to bid on it, get their workers here and do something with it,” Lorentz said.
Although the Bills organization told lawmakers it was not in the development game, that would not deter such talk from private developers.
Orchard Park City Supervisor Eugene Majchrzak says so far he hasn’t heard of any developers. And he feels this way regarding any potential development location:
“It really depends on what the campus of the stadium complex will look like. As to where a developer might want to put a hotel or a restaurant. I think it would be nearby.”
The supervisor realizes that the town hall must solve another development problem.
“We have a height limit for hotels and structures etc., two and a half stories. We may have to create a gap for an area where something taller might be allowed,” Majchrzak said.
Green Bay and New England officials say there was a lot of mutual pre-planning to make any stadium-related economic development work in their communities and now they have hotel and sales taxes ahead.
So far, Lorentz and Majchrzak say no one from the Bills, county executive office, or state has really broached this or anything else with the city, so they may be trying to throw the discussion to see where it goes.