Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he wasn’t referring to the Bills home stadium as New Era Field any longer, after the company laid off 117 local workers as soon as the federal Paycheck Protection Program ended.
The company took between between $5 million and $10 million in a PPP loan, but the layoffs came quickly when that program ended.
“I am exceptionally disappointed with New Era,” Poloncarz said, via Sandra Tan of the Buffalo News. “And I’ll say this. After seeing everything that we dealt with with New Era whenever we had negotiations on the stadium, I don’t believe we are going to give naming rights to any Bills organization that can sell them and then have an organization treat our community as poorly as New Era did. . . .
“I would rather see the stadium called Veterans Stadium than New Era. I won’t even use that name. I still call it Ralph Wilson Stadium. I’m a little disappointed in the way New Era treated in our community. That company would not exist without the hard work of the people in this community.”
The company is headquartered in Buffalo, and 117 of their total of 187 layoffs are coming from there. Poloncarz said he understands businesses are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, “but that doesn’t mean our football stadium in Orchard Park should have its name on it.”
“I’m sure members of the business community will be mad at me, saying ‘Oh, you should never criticize a local company, no matter what they do,’ ” Poloncarz said. “Well, the hell with it.”
New Era pays the Bills around $5 million a year for naming rights to the stadium, for a deal struck in 2016.