ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – More than $100 million is being spent to upgrade Ralph Wilson Stadium, and at the same time, the team is looking at the possibility of building a new home for the Buffalo Bills.
On Thursday, the Bills have announced their picks to be on the New Stadium Working Group, an advisory committee will explore the possible development and construction of a new stadium or significant renovation to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills, Erie County and NYS will each name seven people to the group.
Senator Charles Schumer said, “We’ll do whatever it takes to keep the Bills in Buffalo. They are part of the soul of the city. We’ve been able to work closely with the NFL and commissioner Goodell, and that’s going to be a real asset. He’s from Western New York, from Jamestown, and he wants to keep the Bills in Buffalo.”
Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said, “The seven individuals selected are passionate about the Buffalo Bills and recognize it’s importance, both
Just hours before Wilson’s death on Tuesday, members of the county and state’s members of the New Stadium Working Group toured the stadium that bears his name.
“I certainly hope the team’s staying for many many decades to come,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Lt. Governor Robert Duffy added, “I’m just blown away with how much work has been in renovations so far this year.”
Already, improvements have been made in fan access, new rest rooms and concession stands. But they are only temporary fixes.
“We’re putting in place the mechanism that will be necessary to show a new owner that we’re committed to keeping this team in town, whether it’s through a major retro-fit of Ralph Wilson Stadium, or the building of a new stadium,” Poloncarz said.
But even if the new owner wants to move the Bills out-of-state, the state, county and Erie County Stadium Corporation can file a court order to block the move. That’s even before the new owner has to face penalties.
If a judge approved the move, which would likely not be a short process, then the new owner would have to pay a $400 million penalty.
It makes it very unlikely that in the first seven years of this lease, through 2020, there will be any changes in where the Buffalo Bills play. After year seven, there’s a short window where the lease can be terminated for $28.4 million. But by then, there should be more progress on efforts surrounding a new stadium with the committee now in place.
The Bills’ seven members include:
- Russell H. Brandon, Bills President and Chief Executive Officer
- Louis P. Ciminelli, Chairman LPCiminelli, Inc.
- Christopher H. Koch, CEO of New Era Cap Co., Inc.
- Jordan Levy, Managing Partner of SoftBank Capital
- Jeffrey C. Littmann, Bills Chief Financial Officer
- Mary Owen, Bills Executive Vice President Strategic Planning
- Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator
- Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive
- Richard Tobe, Deputy County Executive, Erie County
- Maria R. Whyte, Commissioner of Environment and Planning, Erie County
- Kathleen Hochul, Vice President, M&T Bank Corporation
- Michael Joseph, President, Clover Management, Inc.
- Alphonso O’Neil-White, Retired President & CEO of HealthNow New York Inc.
- Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
The state’s members, so far, are:
- Robert Duffy, Lieutenant Governor
- Byron Brown, Buffalo Mayor
- Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls Mayor
- Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Buffalo Niagara Partnership CEO Kenneth Adams, Empire State Development President