Onondaga County lawmakers Tuesday approved $25 million worth of renovations for NBT Bank Stadium, but it doesn’t come without some reservations. The county and state are splitting the cost. Legislator Tom Buckel was the lone no vote, saying he’d rather put the money toward a new stadium downtown, where it should have been in the first place.
"Otherwise, we're throwing good money after bad with no return for the community...other than providing a facility for our beloved New York Mets, which I do love. That is not enough by itself to perpetuate a tremendous blunder."
GOP Floor Leader Brian May says excitement has been building around baseball in Syracuse, but acknowledged there are obstacles.
"The investment we're making today is a tiny fraction compared to reinvesting in a new approach to pro baseball in this community, repositioning it elsewhere."
Legislator Casey Jordan said he struggled with the proposal, and questioned the investment. He says the county is already subsidizing the facility and team...the county takes in $175,000 a year in rental income, but has $600,000 in expenses. At the same time, he says the facility is there, and it needs every opportunity to succeed.
"How many of these entertainment venues are taxpayers supposed to subsidize? We spent tens of millions of dollars building the stadium. It hasn't been a phenomenal success to this point. The performance so far this year has been encouraging and favorable with the new organization. I hope this is worth the investment."
Legislator Chris Ryan says the stadium may not be in the best location, but adds that the Mets have been a great new partner.
"I think this is a good faith effort. Bringing baseball, keeping baseball, and getting people here to see baseball is paramount."
Lawmakers also approved a 25-year lease with the Mets organization, ending in late 2043. The lease was contingent upon approval of the stadium improvements.