Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula has seen it all unfold over the last year-and-a-half around the National Football League.
By the time the Oakland Raiders are officially due to relocate to Las Vegas, the Bills will have the fourth-oldest stadium in the NFL, and of those four, the Bills' facility will be the only one to not have significant renovations to help make it more current.
The main reason for the Raiders move to Las Vegas, which was ratified by the league at the NFL Owners Meetings by a vote of 31-to-1, was because they'd be getting a brand new stadium out of it. The Rams jettisoned to Los Angeles, in part, because they'd be getting a state-of-the-art new stadium. And the Chargers, in a stadium dispute of their own, just left San Diego for Los Angeles.
With the culture around the NFL the way that it is, it's hard to not relate that situation to Buffalo and their current confines at New Era Field. That much doesn't matter to Pegula, it would appear.
For the first time in over two years, Pegula spoke with multiple members of the media -- and the notion of the stadium was amongst the biggest topics. And Pegula downplayed the notion of a new facility being in the cards in the near future, if not entirely dismissing it.
“The state just got through with a rather expensive renovation on the stadium. I don’t think it’s our place to make demands and ask for things right now," Pegula said. "We have a lease on our stadium until 2023, and we’re looking forward to the football season and not talking about stadiums."
Then named Ralph Wilson Stadium, New Era Field underwent $130 million in renovations ahead of the start of the regular season in 2014.
Though, since the NFL owners ratified Terry and Kim Pegula to purchase the Bills franchise, many influential members around the league have made it clear that there was a plan for eventually bringing together a new stadium. It was more a matter of when, not if, to some other owners that discussed it.
"That hasn’t been discussed in any kind of detail," Pegula said when asked if the league had made it clear recently that they wanted a new stadium in Buffalo. "Everybody knows we’re new owners, we’re a smaller market in the league, so, we just need to be happy with what we have right now in our stadium and call it home."
Though Pegula said that the timing isn't right to ask for more money from the state, the owner was then asked if he would consider building a stadium without public funding. That's when the door was shut on talk of a new stadium for the day.
"Let me make it clear that when I bought the Bills, I said ‘I don’t want to be talking about a stadium for the next nine years,’ so, I haven’t thought about any of that stuff."
Joe B's Take
The talk of a new stadium in Buffalo isn't a topic that is going to go away. I believe where Terry Pegula was coming from, in this instance anyway, was to dispel any notion that a new facility would be in the works in the next few years.
We're still in this middle area where the Bills are still smack dab in the middle of the lease and don't want to irritate the same group that helped fund all the renovations in 2014 by pining for more so soon after. Eventually, though, as time passes and we get closer to the end of the lease in 2023, that seems like the time the topic will take steps forward.
You have to keep coming back to the fact that when Terry and Kim Pegula took over as owners of the team in October of 2014, every owner that spoke on the situation at that time insinuated that they had an eventual plan to build a new stadium in Buffalo. Keep in mind, that when the Pegulas were ratified, the renovations were merely two months old, so they have to follow a certain amount of decorum when discussing future plans publicly.
2023 still feels like a long way away, but, the end of that lease is creeping up, which means over the next six years, the speculation of a new stadium in Buffalo will only intensify.