The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for a 10-year lease deal with the Buffalo Bills for usage and improvements at Ralph Wilson Stadium at its January 24 session.
The 10-year lease, with a one-time termination option during the seventh year of the lease with a $28,363,500 termination fee, includes $130 million of capital investment, including $40.6 million by Erie County, $800,000 in annual rent payments by the Buffalo Bills, Erie County and New York State sharing operating expenses starting at $2.9 million in 2013, and the establishment of the New Stadium Advisory Group “to explore potential for construction of new stadium at current site or a new site within Erie County.”
“I am pleased that we are taking these steps forward to insure that the Buffalo Bills remain in Erie County, that we improve the fan experience, and that we are making a strong commitment to the taxpayers and residents of Erie County,” Legislature Chairperson Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo) said. “We agree with the provisions negotiated by County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe in which we share many of the expenses with New York State and the Buffalo Bills.”
“It is incredibly significant that Buffalo and Erie County can compete on this level, and I commend the County Legislature for working in a bipartisan manner,” Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli (D-Buffalo, Tonawanda) said.
“I believe the lease agreement and renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium will be a good short-term fix addressing fan safety and enhancing the fan experience. I appreciate how all parties worked together to reach this understanding,” Legislator Timothy R. Hogues (D-Buffalo) said. “However, my major focus long term is a multi-use dome stadium in downtown Buffalo, which will allow year-round usage that will spur economic development in the region. I feel we need to take a good, hard look at the proposal of the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex.”
“Every community across the country wants a professional football team; at the end of the day, the Bills are staying in Buffalo and Western New York.,” County Legislator Thomas A. Loughran (D-Amherst) said. “We should be grateful to the efforts of County Executive Poloncarz, Mr. Tobe and County Attorney Michael Siragusa; this is a process we have to go through as a community every 10 years or so.”
“Today’s agreement was the start of a process that shows hope for the longevity of the Buffalo Bills in Western New York. The Bills have become a fabric of the community and economically speaking, they are woven into the community,” Legislator Terrence D. McCracken (D-Lancaster, Depew, South Cheektowaga, Alden), a longtime Bills season-ticket holder, said. “I believe that for a lot of reasons, Erie County is better off with the Bills than without, both economically and spiritually.”