The Buffalo Bills, New York State and Erie County have agreed on a 10-year lease agreement to keep the team in Orchard Park.\
The agreement to keep the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium calls for $130 million in upgrades to the aging, county-owned stadium that first opened in 1973. The Bills will chip in $35 million toward renovations, the state will contribute $54 million and the county will cover the remaining $41 million.
Bills CEO Russ Brandon guarantees that the Bills will be here for at least the next 10 years, says 2 On Your Side's Scott Brown.
In addition, the team and state officials will form a committee to study the possibility of building a new stadium "in the next decade or so," according to Brandon.
"We are committed to this region," he said.
The 10-year agreement runs through 2023. The Bills would be forced to pay $400 million if the team is relocated before then, except that following the seventh year the team would have a one-time-only option to buy out the remainder of the lease for $28 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who helped broker the deal, announced the agreement with team and county officials during a news conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium Friday morning. (Cuomo appeared via satellite link-up due to Friday's inclement weather.)
The deal came together after months of negotiations between the team and both state and county officials, as well as the National Football League's front office. Cuomo had met at least twice with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an effort to broker the agreement.
At the conference Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said his top priority since taking office in January has been to get the deal done. He said there were more than 50 meetings leading up to today's announcement.
New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy called the state and county investments in the lease deal a "shared sacrifice."
Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently one of the oldest in the NFL. The renovations will include a new plaza on the west side of the stadium, as well as updated concessions, bathrooms and new scoreboards.
The full terms of the lease, which is subject to NFL approval, were not immediately available. The document signed Friday was a memorandum of understanding with the terms of the lease.
The Bills' current lease, which first took effect in 1998, was set to expire July 31.
Jon Cambell, Gannett Albany Bureau