posted on December 21, 2012 14:10
Are the Bills staying in Buffalo? According to a new lease agreement, they are at least for the next seven years.
The Bills, Erie County and the state have agreed to a 10-year deal to keep the team in Buffalo that includes a $400 million relocation fee. However, in the seventh year of the deal, there is a window where the relocation fee becomes only a $28 million penalty. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says despite the clause, this is a 10-year deal.
“Last year they could have left this community for $2 million based on the prior lease,” Poloncarz said. “I know we have a strong commitment from (owner) Mr. (Ralph) Wilson and the Bills organization. As Russ (Brandon) noted, if they wanted to leave, they could have left for peanuts in the last few years. But they’ve been committed to this community and they continue to be committed to this community through the life of this agreement.”
The deal calls for a $130 million investment in renovations to 40-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium, $35 million of which comes from the Bills.
“We are putting together a team to analyze whether a new stadium should be built and where the stadium would be, what size, what’s the perfect location,” Poloncarz said, further detailing the agreement. “In years eight, nine and ten, the county and the state has the opportunity to start taking…half of the money we would normally spend for Ralph Wilson Stadium upgrades can be put into a segregated account to be used for design and construction of a brand new stadium.”
The Bills’ current lease expires July 31. The deal comes after months of negotiations among team representatives and government officials. Owner Ralph Wilson is 94 years old and was not present today. There are no current succession plans for the franchise.
“I focus on the here-and-now and Ralph Wilson is the Hall Of Fame owner of the Buffalo Bills,” Bills’ CEO Russ Brandon said. “The question becomes tiresome. I understand it, but it becomes tiresome. Mr. Wilson’s loyalty is unmatched from any owner in professional sports. And I think we should be here today to applaud him”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made keeping the Bills in Western New York a priority. He was not able to attend the press conference this morning due to weather complications, but he expressed his support for the Bills and the region.
“What’s most important is we get this deal done and we move forward for the people of Buffalo,” Governor Cuomo said via video conference. “I’m going to be signing now. I am on the team. Go Bills, go Buffalo, go Western New York! Congratulations to all involved and thank you all involved for making this transaction possible.”