Lease negotiations between the Bills and state and county officials have stalled, opening the possibility that a one year interim contract must be reached for the team to keep playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium next season.
Bills CEO Russ Brandon said that there’s been no progress in talks for 2 months, forcing the team to adjust its plans on whether a long-term agreement can be reached once the current lease expires July 31.
”They have stalled over the last few months, and with some luck, we’ll restart the process and reset the calendar in the near future,” Brandon claimed. ”We’ve been ready to go and have been in discussions with the correct parties for many months now. Over the last few months, we’ve hit kind of a cone of silence in the discussions.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz acknowledged a lag in talks and so the 3 parties still have differences to settle before reaching an agreement.
”It’s a complicated 3-part agreement, and you have to have everybody on the same page,” Poloncarz declared. ”And I’ll say this, we aren’t on the same page with everything with the Bills at this moment, just like the state’s not on the same page with the Buffalo Bills or Erie County. We’re getting there.”
Brandon related the team will miss a deadline this month to apply for an NFL loan help program to help offset the $200-$220 million in costs the Buffalo Bills and taxpayers would share for proposed restorations and upgrades to the 39-year-old stadium.
Brandon announced the Bills needed to present its suggestion for loan assistance at a committee meeting in order to have it placed on the agenda for a league meeting next month. The next chance the Bills will have do that won’t be until March.
That could be too late for the Bills to get loan assistance for next season, putting the team in a position to have to negotiate to extend its current lease by one year.
Poloncarz claimed the county and state are on board with a 1 year extension, and he has no reason to believe NFL owners would object. Poloncarz added the framework of a 1 year extension would be like the team’s existing lease.
”Nobody wants to have a gun at their heads thinking if we do not get it done by the end of the season then what’s going to happen,” Poloncarz expounded. ”By doing an extension, it guarantees the Bills are here for the full 2012 season, and it gives us sufficient time in the next 18 months or so to continue these negotiations.”
Poloncarz and the state have a meeting set for Sept. 21, but noted the last time the 3 parties met was June 29.
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy disputed claims that talks have stalled, saying state representatives have been in constant negotiations with the team and local government for the last one or two months. Football odds
”Let’s set the record straight: the governor and this administration are actively negotiating in good faith with the Bills,” Duffy claimed in a released declaration.