A year ago Buffalo Bills co-owner Terry Pegula downplayed talks of building a new stadium. This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hinted that those talks may be under way privately. He said he thinks they’re in the very early stages.
Earlier this week co-owner Terry Pegula had cryptic words regarding the future of the Bills next stadium.
“We talk about that internally, not publicly,” he said.
The Bills have the option to opt out of their stadium lease with Erie County in less than two years. A team spokesperson later clarified Pegula’s comment was about long-term stadium planning.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the potential cost of a new stadium could cost upwards of $2 billion.
“I think we all agree that’s an excessive amount,” said Poloncarz. “If we can continue to invest in the facility and the Pegulas are continuing to invest in the facility that’s great for our community because it shows their commitment to keeping the Bills in Buffalo. But moreover, reduces the cost for the taxpayers that we might otherwise have to incur.”
Stadium speculation isn't stopping the Pegulas from spending money on New Era Field. $18 million is being spent in private funds to improve club seats and ribbon-board digital signage.
Poloncarz said he hasn’t received any indication from the Pegulas that the Bills plan to move or build a new stadium in the immediate future.
“They’ve invested money in their administration building. They’ve invested money in the training facilities. They’ve invested money behind the scenes and the things that people don’t see in the operating centers. They put a lot of money in," said Poloncarz. "Truthfully they have one of the neatest treadmills I’ve ever seen. It’s wide, it’s large, there’s two of them, it goes underwater. And that they paid for. Not the people of Erie County.”
The upgrades for the stadium are expected to be completed by the start of the 2018 season. The naming rights to club areas named after former quarterback Jim Kelly, former broadcaster Van Miller, and former punter Brian Maguire are expected to be sold.
The renovations are the first for club seats since they were installed in 1999. Poloncarz said the Pegulas thus far have made their commitment to the area well known.
“It’s important that everyone understands that the Pegulas are not just honoring their commitment to this community but their investing in it by (using) $18 million dollars of their own money. I can tell you based on past experience that might not have happened in the past. There would have been a request from the county to contribute but there was none at this point,” he said.
The Bills announced in February ticket prices for the upcoming season will rise an average of 3 percent.