The Bills on Thursday announced their selections "for a high-level panel exploring options for a new football stadium in Western New York, kicking off the process that looks to cement the team’s future in the area just days after the death of longtime owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
," according to Tim Graham of the BUFFALO NEWS. Dubbed the “New Stadium Working Group,” the panel also includes "the surprise appointment" of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). His presence "is now viewed as key, given his influence in the Senate and his long-standing efforts to keep the Bills in Buffalo," as he has "a close relationship" with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The group appears to "be wasting no time in getting started," with Gov. Andrew Cuomo administration officials "indicating a Tuesday meeting is slated for a yet-to-be-determined location in the Buffalo area." Schumer said, "There’s no better way to honor Ralph Wilson’s legacy than by keeping the Bills in Buffalo. I spoke to him at length about his passion to keep the team here." Six other panel members were also named, including Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon, CFO Jeff Littman, Exec VP/Strategic Planning Mary Owen, LPCiminelli Inc. Chair Louis Ciminelli, New Era CEO Chris Koch and SoftBank Capital General Partner Jordan Levy. Some of the new members "bring key experience in dealing with Albany, which looms as a major piece of any stadium financing puzzle to emerge from the plan." Levy, for example, is "former chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. with strong ties in Albany, including to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/28