The CUM awards were created to honor the most outstanding examples of financial promiscuity in the architectural and urban realm.

Each year CUM honors a work of public architecture with a trophy that speaks to the profligate misuse of funds in the name of the public good. This year we honor three stadia for their outstanding achievement meet Stadia Majora.




Buffalo, New York is the third-poorest city in the country, with the nation’s second-highest child poverty rate. Earlier this year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she was spending $1 billion in public money to the region—so the billionaire owners of the Buffalo Bills could build a brand new football stadium. It’s the largest all-cash public subsidy for an NFL team in history.

Governor Hochul, who is from Buffalo and assumed office after her predecessor left in a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations, announced the giveaway without holding a single public hearing on the matter, and without consulting the state legislature. As governor, she chose to wedge the historic public expenditure into the state budget, days before it was due to be finalized, daring the legislature to either annihilate the state’s entire spending plan or pass it with the stadium deal intact. It was too late to pull out. The budget passed, and so did the stadium giveaway.

To justify her decision, Hochul alluded to the threats that the owners of the Bills made to potentially leave the area if they didn’t get their money. She claimed that the stadium would create  10,000 construction jobs, and essentially pay for itself. Those jobs, however, are temporary, and the idea that a football stadium is value-neutral is based on bogus math. 

The owners of the team, Terry and Kim Pegula, also own Buffalo’s professional hockey squad, and are worth some $7 billion.Terry earned his fortunes in natural gas and fracking, and the Pegula are prolific donors to Republicans and Democrats. The Pegulas didn’t give any money to governor Hochul’s campaign this year—it just wouldn’t be proper. (They did give Hochul and her then-running mate Andrew Cuomo $25,000 back in 2014.)

One final point that needs to be nailed down before the deal is completely finished: how much money will the community itself receive? Given that the practice of giving obscenely rich owners of sports teams gobs of public money is unseemly, it’s customary to toss a few crumbs to the people who live in the shadows of these atrocities. A community group called Play Fair is asking for $500 million over the 30-year period to be spent on children, affordable housing, and healthcare. For some odd reason, this appears to be a sticking point.

Renderings for the stadium reveal a glass-walled receptacle with “stacked seating” and “extensive radiant heating” for those frigid Buffalo winters. The stadium will be a nice, warm refuge to thrust all that cold, hard cash—an ideal candidate for CUM’s recognition.

We honor Buffalo Bills Stadium, and Governor Kathy Hochul, with this award.