The negotiations for a new Buffalo Bills stadium have just begun, but the state and team on different pages.
Pegula Sports & Entertainment — representing Bills and Sabers owners Kim and Terry Pegula — have made a $1.5 billion proposal for a new Bills stadium and renovation costs for KeyBank Center arena in which the Buffalo Sabres play hockey.
Reportedly, the proposal asks for the full cost of the new Bills stadium to be covered by public funds.
If the team is seeking a deal in which public revenue is needed to cover costs for a new stadium, then that request would likely be higher than the initial proposal of 1.5 billion. It has also been stated that Austin, Texas would welcome the Bills if they were to leave.
An ownership source tells me that Austin is a possible destination—or threat—as one of the “other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it.” https://t.co/zMf1oChO8K
— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) August 1, 2021
Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for Pegula Sports & Entertainment stated that the company is not seeking any public assistance for updates to KeyBank Center and that the billions sought after in regard to public money was false.
“Governor Cuomo is committed to the Bills staying in Buffalo, as demonstrated by the state’s contribution to the recent $130 million investment in the current stadium,” said Cuomo spokesperson Freeman Klopott.
“The administration is fully engaged with the Bills and other stakeholders as we conduct due diligence to understand the economics around the team’s proposal…”
Situations such as this conjures memories of past relocation deals in the NFL; the Raiders leaving Oakland in 2019 and the Rams departing St. Louis in 2015. Both failed to generate enough public money to stay in those cities and ultimately decided to ship out.
Furthermore, this is likely just the start of negotiations between the Bills, Sabers, City of Buffalo, and the State of New York — no more than negotiating tactic.
Pegulas Sports & Entertainment are asking for too much and may have to revisit the negotiation table soon. Bills Mafia will not let their team ride off into the sunset destined for Austin anytime soon. Both parties should come to an agreement in the future.
The team’s lease at its Orchard Park stadium expires in 2023.