SBD/June 18, 2012/Facilities

Bills Make Progress On Renovation Plans, New Lease For Ralph Wilson Stadium

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The Bills have already passed last year's season-ticket sale total of 37,355
Erie County (New York) Exec Mark Poloncarz said Saturday that the major terms of a new lease for the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium "could be hammered out before the Bills go to training camp near the end of July," according to Gene Warner of the BUFFALO NEWS. Poloncarz said, "We’ve had multiple negotiations, and it’s starting to pick up at a greater pace. We all are on a timeline to get the major terms agreed on by the beginning of training camp. That’s what we’re hopeful of doing." Poloncarz suggested that those major terms "would include the length of the lease, the amount of money being spent for stadium renovations and how those costs would be divided up among the county, New York State and the Bills." The first phase of the "three-year stadium renovation project then could begin some time early next year." Poloncarz said that the Bills are "asking for a package of stadium renovations expected to cost somewhere between $200 million and $220 million." He added that he hopes the Bills "will foot part of the bill." The team's current 15-year lease on the stadium "expires July 31, 2013" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/17). Poloncarz stressed that it is "premature to label the deal as anywhere near completion." He confirmed that the renovation price tag is "more than double what former Erie County executive Chris Collins projected it would be in October before talks began." The AP's John Wawrow noted up for discussion is "how much of the team's wish list of needs will be included" in the renovation plan. Poloncarz said that the Bills and the NFL "have been asked to contribute an undisclosed share" and, due to Erie County's limited resources, he expects that the state will "provide a commitment" (AP, 6/15).

BUILDING ON BUZZ: In Buffalo, Warner noted the "positive buzz" about the Bills has "started to pay off at the box office." The Bills have "reversed their recent slide in season-ticket sales, as the team already passed last year’s total of 37,355." But team officials have said that they "still have a long way to go to match the lofty season-ticket figures of more than 55,000" from '08 and '09. Bills CEO Russ Brandon said that the team "recently passed the 40,000 mark in season tickets." Brandon admits that the team "hoped for a little bit more of a bump so far in season-ticket numbers." He said, “With the offseason we’ve had, we were hoping we’d be a little further along with our season tickets, but overall we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made." Brandon said “it’s a realistic goal" for the team to surpass its '10 season-ticket figure of 43,925 (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/17).
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