Goodell: Bills in "early stages" of long term stadium planning

Issue raised at owners meetings

March 28, 2018 - 2:07 pm
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ORLANDO, FL (WGR550/Sal Cappacio/WBEN) - On the heels of Bills’ owner Terry Pegula saying Tuesday that the team is having heavy internal discussions regarding the long-term planning of New Era Field, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the owners are focused on current renovations and are in the very early stages of any planning for the future.

“As you know, earlier this week, we did a short-term, joint financing with the Bills to make some short-term improvements in that facility,” Goodell told reporters here at annual league meetings.  

The Buffalo News reported Tuesday that the Bills are spending $18 million in private funds to improve club seats and ribbon-board digital signage at New Era Field, including selling the naming rights to the Jim Kelly, Van Miller, and Paul Maguire club areas.

“I know that they’re focused on this and they’re looking at how they address these issues long-term,” Goodell said.  “But I think those (updates) are better coming from the Pegulas, whenever they’re at the point in which they want to share that with the community.  I think they’re in the very early stage.”

New Era Field is now 45 years old.  The stadium’s lease with Erie County expires in February of 2023 when it will be 50 years old.  The Bills have a right to opt-out of the lease in 2020, allowing them more flexibility to plan for a new stadium independent of any government entities.  

"We talk about that heavily internally, but not publicly," Pegula said.  A team spokesperson later clarified that Pegula's response to say that he was referring to general long-term planning and that the team is not opting out in 2020.

Local Dignitaries React

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz indicated that this is a positive for those hoping the stadium remains in Orchard Park.

"I think it sends a great message to the community that the Pegula's are investing $18 million in the current stadium to update the club seat areas," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who noted the money invested is all private funds. "The Pegula's did not come to the table and ask (Erie County) for assistance in these projects. They did it on their own."

He said that this indicates the team is satisfied with the current facility.

Poloncarz said he has talked with Russ Brandon on the topic of moving out of New Era Field.

"He's given me their word they have no intention of opting out nor at this point are we on track to be building a new stadium," Poloncarz added. "I think as we continue and move into the 2018 football season, and the forseeable future, they'll be playing at the new New Era Field."

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