Bills, County Agree To New 10-Year Lease At Stadium With Relocation Penalty
New York state, Erie County and the Bills “have struck a final deal” for a 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium with a “hefty relocation penalty if the Bills leave,” according to sources cited by Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. The agreement, which was formally announced Friday morning, comes “after months of secret meetings between the sides over what officials have described as complex terms involving a team whose owner, Ralph Wilson, has made past commitments to stay in Buffalo but is getting old and has had health problems in the past year or so.” The Bills have a “one-time chance to leave during that time -- after the seventh year of the contract -- without a financial penalty.” If they leave during any other year of the 10-year period, the team “will have to pay a $400 million relocation penalty.” That amount is “more than the state has provided the team in incentives to remain going back to 1998.” A source said that $130M "will be spent on a range of renovations at the aging stadium.” The Bills “will kick in $35 million, which is different from past deals with the state that included no team contribution.” The state and county will “share the remaining $95 million renovation costs, though it is uncertain how much precisely will be coming from both government entities” (BUFFALONEWS.com, 12/21).
LACKING HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser agreed with Bills C Eric Wood's assessment that the Bills did not have a real home-field advantage when they played the Seahawks last week at Toronto's Rogers Centre. Kornheiser said, "The only advantage you have in Buffalo is the weather in November and December, and it should be uncomfortable. If you can come in and play in a dome in Toronto, where it’s no big deal with fewer fans and nobody’s really involved in the Bills, then you lose that advantage. If you’re going to give Toronto any game at all, give them games in September, don’t give them games in November and December.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said of the Bills, “You don’t have a home-field advantage anytime.” But Wilbon said, "We’re talking about economics, we’re talking a team’s finances. You know there’s a sweetheart deal here. They get more money for playing in Toronto” (“PTI,” ESPN, 12/20).