Andrew Cuomo, Biglaw, Football, Sports, Trademarks

Ask Not What The NFL Can Do For Buffalo

This is the delicate dance done between American cities and the NFL. The American city will bow, the NFL will embrace. They glide across the dancefloor of time and space, dipping and twirling, bumping and grinding. The city and the NFL become one as the dance reaches its climactic stage, the NFL gently caressing the city, like a mother might a child. As the music of the universe crescendos, the NFL will whisper gently into the willing city’s ear.


The stadium is built and the dance is complete.

In upstate New York, this thrusting, rapey foxtrot is just getting started. Governor Cuomo, the Bills, Roger Goodell, they’ve all been invited. And so has a lawyer… natch.

Because the Bills need a new stadium and because they need a new owner. Because the state of New York drafted an attorney with tremendous upside potential.

Because all of this, let’s talk sports…


To bring you up to speed, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson died in March. As the reports of Buffalo’s demise haven’t been all that exaggerated, many have felt that it is only a matter of time before the Bills vamoose to greener, warmer, and sexier pastures. Since the next owner of the Bills will largely determine the team’s fate and location, now seems to be the tipping point for Buffalo’s fate as an NFL city.

Naturally, the location of an NFL franchise is so important that it requires of us as a society, a total commitment and a profound sacrifice. Blue ribbon committees must be convened and governments must be placed on a war footing. Short of that, we must throw a few bucks at a lawyer:

The soon-to-be-signed contract comes after the state’s economic development agency a couple weeks ago quietly retained the services of a Manhattan law firm to represent the state’s interest in upcoming expected talks to persuade the team’s future owners to remain in Western New York.

The two moves represent a sudden push by the Cuomo administration since the recent death of Ralph Wilson Jr., the team’s longtime owner, to keep the state’s interests in play as the team’s future remains uncertain.

The $350,000 contract with Foley & Lardner law firm was approved just a few weeks after the death of the team’s owner, Ralph Wilson Jr. The contract, without competitive bidding, calls for the payment of a “partner rate” of $495 per hour, as well as any expenses the firm incurs on behalf.

On one hand, $350,000 is a rounding error in the New York state budget. On the other, persuading an NFL team to remain in Lake Woebegone, New York is going to cost a helluva lot more than $350,000. This is just the start of New York’s future fleecing. Just the tip.

Governor Cuomo’s upstate pandering will cost everything Buffalo/New York’s got. And more. Despite wiping its ass with hundreds, the league has made it clear that capital investment is a very public undertaking:

“I’ve had a lot of discussions with prospective owners, but I’ve also had discussions with public officials. We all want to focus and get that stadium and do it the right way and get the right ownership in there to make sure they continue to be successful in Western New York,” he said.

Goodell added that the Bills will eventually require a new stadium.

“We said at the time when they entered into their new lease, that this is really a short-term solution. We need to find the right long-term solution that is good for the community and can help the Bills continue to be successful in Western New York, and I’m confident we’ll get there,” he said.

There you have it, sports fans. The dance begins. And Foley & Lardner stands to make $350,000 doing their best Matthew Lesko impersonation, pointing the NFL towards all the free government money!

And you thought Buffalo got raped on that Sammy Watkins trade last night.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

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