Legislature approves 10-year lease for Bills stadium, includes luxury box for Governor

Mar 22, 2013

The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a new 10-year lease deal for Ralph Wilson Stadium Thursday afternoon, the last major obstacle to cementing a long-term commitment with the Buffalo Bills.

The National Football League approved the deal earlier this week. Renovations to the Orchard Park facility will cost $130 million dollars: $53 million from Albany, $40 million from the county, and $35 million from the Bills.

Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe helped negotiate the new lease deal.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe says completion of the lease deal is imminent.

"The state budget has to pass. Hopefully that will be this weekend. We'll then be able to close the deal," Tobe said. "We'll be ready to close as soon as the state budget is adopted. All the other approvals were done in the last two days."

Democratic Legislator Lynn Marinelli says it's a good deal for the county.

"Why is this a good investment? In state income tax collections alone that are projected for the next ten years, $140 million will be added to state coffers, an amount that exceeds the investment for all three parties to this agreement. Erie County wins too, with added sales tax and bed tax collections," Marinelli said.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz commended the action, in a statement.

Their vote today signifies their commitment to keeping the Bills in Buffalo, which we all agree is important to our area,” said Poloncarz. “I also want to thank the members of the County’s negotiating team, particularly Deputy County Executive Tobe, for working so closely with the Legislature and for their hard work in guiding the negotiation process to this point.”

A published report says the Cuomo administration is getting a 12-seat luxury box at Ralph Wilson Stadium stadium as part of the $130 million deal to renovate the NFL venue.

Outside Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Credit WBFO News file photo

The New York Times reports that the suite was negotiated by the state as part of the agreement to keep the Bills in western New York. Citing state documents, the newspaper reports that the suite  will be used by public officials to promote New York state and the Buffalo-Niagara region.

Administration officials say since the stadium is publicly owned, using luxury boxes to promote the state is legitimate.  The revelation follows Thursday's vote in the county legislature.   

Inside Ralph Wilson Stadium when new turf was being placed
Credit WBFO News file photo

Construction could start in May at the Ralph with the most visible elements being installed after the next football season.