The looming question of whether the Buffalo Bills will remain in Western New York (WNY) for years to come still goes unanswered as training camp approaches. The Bills and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz have been attempting to work out an extended lease agreement for the Bills to remain in WNY since April. Although both sides have not come to an agreement yet, which they wanted to do by the start of training camp, Poloncarz told the media “We’ve accomplished a lot. Every party knows where the other one stands. Now it’s just that final time where you sort of butt heads with each other until you reach an agreement.”
The Buffalo Bills are just about a week away from beginning training camp on July 26th, which takes place at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. It is disappointing that the two sides could not reach their goal of having a “memorandum of understanding” done by training camp, but they still have time to work out the details. The current lease between the Buffalo Bills and Erie County expires on July 31st, 2013 and Poloncarz is certain they will have a new lease signed by the end of 2012. Erie County expects the new lease to be a 10 to 15 year agreement in order to assure that the Bills remain in WNY for many years to come.
However, there is a huge financial issue when it comes to the Bills signing a new lease. Ralph Wilson Stadium needs major renovations done because it is far behind other stadiums when it comes to modern design and environmental efficiency. The Bills expect they will need about $200 to $220 million dollars to cover the cost of a complete renovation of their stadium located in Orchard Park, NY. This is a large amount of money and Poloncarz recognizes that Erie County alone cannot fund the renovation by itself. They are expecting to play a financial role in the new stadium design for the Bills, but the county is largely relying on the state to come through with most of the construction costs.
Poloncarz is sure that all of the parties involved in the process of drawing up a new lease for the Bills will be able to come together to make it happen stating, “I feel confident, though, that the Bills understand the county’s financial situation, and working with New York State and the Bills, we’re going to get a deal done that’s fair to all.” The Bills are an extremely important piece of Buffalo’s community, economy, and culture and the team, county, and state all are conscious of this. It would be devastating for Bills fans and Western New York if the Buffalo Bills relocated, so everyone is working hard to get a deal done.