Buffalo Bills Stadium Lease Negotiations Resume

Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

In what can be seen as an encouraging sign, the Buffalo Bills and state and local government officials have resumed working towards a long-term lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium.

New York State lawmakers had plenty to deal with in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, temporarily stalling talks with the Buffalo Bills about an extension of the Ralph Wilson Stadium lease. Now that the immediate heavy lifting following Sandy is done, the two sides are back at it - with at least one major change.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was in Albany yesterday for an economic development meeting and spoke with Tom Precious of The Buffalo News about a new lease, among other topics. Without providing specifics, Poloncarz shared that the one-year lease extension idea floated earlier in the year is off the table.

"There was a discussion at one point," Poloncarz said of the one-year proposal, "but I think everyone realizes why do a short-term lease if we can get a long-term lease done now."

The most recent talks took place on Tuesday, according to Associated Press reporter Carolyn Thompson.

"We are certainly talking about everything, but I think we all agree it makes more sense to get a long-term deal done than negotiate a one-year deal and then in six months have to pick it back up again," Poloncarz told Thompson by phone Wednesday.

The shift back to long-term lease negotiations is surely centered around money, which is also the likely hold-up. With the county and state being asked to provide financial investment in infrastructure at The Ralph, they want assurances that the team won’t be leaving any time soon. The stronger the assurances, the less likely the Bills will be to sign it. And so it goes.

"It all comes down to we want to ensure this team’s here for a significant time period, so if we’re going to invest public dollars to renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium and assist the Bills with operating assistance as we have in the past, then we also want to ensure they’re there for some period," Poloncarz told Precious.

Prior to the Hurriance, the two sides were speaking by phone on a daily basis, according to Precious' report. After a three-week delay, those communications have resumed, and Poloncarz doesn’t sound concerned.

"I like the position we’re in," Poloncarz said four separate times to Precious.

The Bills' current lease expires on July 31, 2013.

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