WNY (WKBW/Release) - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Buffalo Bills have committed to remain in Western New York for at least the next seven years.
The Agreement signed today by the Governor, the Buffalo Bills, and Erie County includes a commitment from the Bills to stay in Buffalo for at least the next seven years, and $130 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The agreement also includes the creation of a New Stadium Working Group and Fund to explore the potential for constructing a future new professional sports stadium in Western New York.
"The Buffalo Bills are a central part of the cultural, economic, and of the entire Western part of New York State, and the state has never wavered in our commitment to keeping the Bills a thriving part of the Buffalo community," Governor Cuomo said.
"With a fan-base as diverse, passionate, and energetic as any professional sports team in the nation, the Buffalo Bills account for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact as well as hundreds of jobs in Western New York, and today is a major victory for our entire state. This agreement ensures the Bills stay where they belong right here in New York, while also protecting tax payer dollars and putting in place a longer-term vision for the team's continued presence in Buffalo. I commend the Bills leadership, our NFL partners, the ownership of the Stadium, and the County officials for their hard work in reaching this major agreement."
Terms of the agreement include:
· Commitment to Stay in Buffalo: Under the agreement, the Bills are legally committed to remain in their current location for at least seven years, regardless of ownership.
· New Stadium Lease: The Bills will enter into a new 10 year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium
· Stadium Improvements: The agreement includes $130 million for upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium that will improve the fan experience. The Bills will contribute significantly - $35 million - to the capital improvements to the Stadium. The state will contribute $54 million and the county will contribute $41 million. Improvements throughout the stadium will include, but not be limited to, the following:
o Implementation of new technology throughout the building to improve the overall fan experience. This will include new video display boards in the east end of the stadium.
o Creation of a new west end plaza, inclusive of a new team store and enhanced gate entries.
o Renovated and expanded concessions experience for all fans.
· New Stadium Working Group and Fund: The agreement establishes a New Stadium Working Group that will consist of representatives of the Bills, the County and the State to explore the potential for the construction of a new stadium in the future. The agreement also includes a fund to for future development and planning.
The County and the Erie County Stadium Corporation will continue current levels of support for certain stadium related expenses, annual capital improvements and working capital. The Stadium lease and other documents will be finalized over the coming weeks and submitted to the NFL for approval.
The state and county funding must be approved through the legislative process. Stadium improvements will begin in 2013.
Russ Brandon, CEO of the Buffalo Bills, said, “We are here today because Mr. Wilson, Governor Cuomo and County Executive Poloncarz each, from day one, tasked their staffs to get this done. Additionally, Commissioner Goodell understands our community, feels the passion of our fans and worked with the Governor to help shape this deal. And today is another strong example of Mr. Wilson's dedication to the birthplace of this franchise.
The investment, while significant, is modest in contrast to building a new stadium or engaging in a major retrofit, far less than what the interest alone would be on a new stadium over the term.
We look forward to the opportunity to execute this plan and to join Governor Cuomo and County Executive Poloncarz as we work toward a shared vision for the future of the Buffalo Bills beyond the term of this deal.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “From day one, a top priority of my administration has been to get the right lease negotiated for state and local taxpayers, the Bills, and their fans. Today I am proud to say we have accomplished that goal.
On behalf of the entire Erie County negotiating team, my thanks to the Bills’ organization and Mr. Wilson and Governor Cuomo and his team for all of their hard work in getting this lease done, and for being here to present this early Christmas gift to Bills fans everywhere.
I especially want to thank Deputy County Executive Rich Tobe for the countless hours he put in as the lead negotiator for the County. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts.
This new lease ensures that the Bills continue to be a part of our community for the next decade and also prepares for the future of a new stadium to ensure the Bills remain in Buffalo for many years to come. Everyone understood the economic realities facing our community, and that’s why we have developed a more affordable capital improvements plan to invest $130 million into Ralph Wilson stadium over the next several years, not the more than $200 million originally discussed, and that includes a $35 million investment from the Bills’ organization.
Additionally, the Bills will be showing our community the same loyalty that fans have shown them for over 50 years by agreeing to a binding non-relocation clause that demonstrates their commitment to staying here now and in the future.
The Bills are not just a driver of our regional and bi-national economy, but are critical to the framework of our community. Again, my thanks to our partners in completing this agreement, and Happy Holidays to all.”