Tom Precious of The Buffalo News is reporting that the Buffalo Bills, Erie County and New York State have agreed to a 10-year lease agreement for Ralph Wilson Stadium that will tie the Bills to Western New York for another decade.
Per the report, which cites anonymous sources, the deal includes a hefty relocation penalty; if the Bills are moved to another city during the length of the deal, they'll pay $400 million to the county and state. That's roughly half of the worth of the franchise, meaning that any potential new owner would have to pay at least 1.5 times the franchise valuation to purchase the team and move it.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, however, points out that the deal includes a one-time out of $28 million for the Bills to move after the seventh year of the deal. At that point, the Bills will apparently be able to move the team - under new ownership - without having to pay the larger relocation penalty. This one-time clause is clearly aimed at allowing Ralph Wilson's estate to sell the team to the highest bidder, without the complication of the added fee, if the situation arises.
Precious also reports that the stadium in Orchard Park will undergo $130 million in renovations, far less than the previously reported $200-225 million range. Of that $130 million price tag, $35 million will be contributed directly by the franchise, with the remaining $95 million split between the county and the state.
The old, now irrelevant stadium lease was set to expire on July 31, 2013. Now, the Bills will be here for at least another seven years, and tied to the region for a decade - and any outside ownership entity looking to move the team, when that time comes, will have a fairly significant hurdle to clear.
This new agreement is expected to be officially announced in a press conference later this morning at the stadium.