Ralph Wilson Stadium - Courtesy: US Presswire
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- All through June and even earlier this month, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he wanted a general agreement or a "memorandum of understanding" by the start of training camp on the major issues for a new lease deal on Ralph Wilson Stadium with the Buffalo Bills.
Now that training camp has started, Poloncarz tells 2 On Your Side that while there is some understanding on some issues between the Bills and the county, there is no general agreement yet. He stresses that negotiations on a lease deal are continuing and he says now "the three parties (the Bills, Erie County, New York State) wanted to try to get it done this year and that's the goal, to get a lease signed by the end of the year."
Poloncarz would not discuss which issues must still be resolved or where there are areas of agreement. But he says he does take fan concerns about potential team relocation protection , the TV blackout rule, lower ticket prices, and even the Toronto games into account when he has discussions with the Bills. Poloncarz says the only area of agreement he can share is that they won't discuss the exact status of the negotiations.
Poloncarz also would not discuss the widely reported potential figure of $200 Million for stadium improvements or the length of a new stadium lease. The current lease was 15 years which expires a year from now in July 2013.
The County Executive also says he feels the Cuomo Administration is also committed to keeping the Bills in Western New York.
Poloncarz claims the county was not even prepared to negotiate when he first took office. Poloncarz says he basically had to "start from square one" by hiring attorneys and issuing an executive order to formally start the discussions.
Former County Executive Chris Collins disputes that point. Collins says he had held discussions on the stadium renovations design package with Bills executives Russ Brandon and Jeff Littman. Collins also says he personally handled the negotiations.
You can see our entire interview with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in the video attached to this story. We have also attached a phone interview with Chris Collins.