Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Empire State Development (ESD) Board of Directors has approved the adoption of the general project plan for renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park and extension of the current lease with the Buffalo Bills. The Erie County Stadium Corporation (ECSC), a subsidiary of ESD, met yesterday and recommended its approval to the Board. These approvals signal another step toward finalizing the terms of the deal into a formal 10-year lease. In December 2012, Governor Cuomo announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been signed setting forth the basic terms of an agreement to keep the Bills in Buffalo.
“The State remains committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo,” Governor Cuomo said. “The approvals by the Erie County Stadium Corporation and Empire State Development mark further progress in finalizing the agreement that we reached last year, so that this iconic team stays in the community – a victory for fans and the Western New York economy.”
“This approval is another step forward,” said Erie County Stadium Corporation Chairman and Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “The votes by the Erie County Stadium Corporation and Empire State Development are a demonstration of the State’s and the county’s commitment to the Bills’ continued presence in our community for years to come, and to creating jobs and economic activity.”
“I am pleased that the Erie County Stadium Corporation and Empire State Development met and approved the basic terms of the new 10-year lease,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “These approvals clear away another hurdle as we move towards ensuring that the Bills continue to be a vital part of our community for many years to come.”
Adoption of the General Project Plan is the first step in the legal process for approving the new lease. Additional approvals are needed by ECSC, ESD, and Erie County, as well as the NFL owners, before execution of the legal documents can be completed. The deal is expected to close as planned in late March. The State’s share of the renovation work is included in Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2013-14 Executive Budget, which will need approval from the State Legislature.
The MOU signed by the Governor, the Buffalo Bills and Erie County includes a commitment from the Bills to stay in Buffalo for at least the next seven years and $130 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The agreement also includes the creation of a New Stadium Working Group and Fund to explore the potential for constructing a new professional sports stadium in Western New York in the future.