Fewer issues are more polarizing when discussing the future of the Buffalo Bills than the idea of a new stadium. But when team owner Terry Pegula speaks with the media, it’s always bound to come up.
Such was the case on Wednesday during a rare interview with reporters at Bills training camp in Rochester, NY. Pegula discussed a variety of topics from the outlook for the Bills in 2017 to concussions in the NFL. He even fielded questions about his other major pro sports holding, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
But his comments on the stadium situation, both as it exists now and how it may evolve over time, garnered a great deal of interest. For the time being, he’s content with the $130 million facelift the Bills existing facility, New Era Field, received in 2014. In that sense, a new stadium isn’t in the offing anytime soon.
Buffalo Bills Owner Terry Pegula Happy With Current Stadium Situation, for Now
“We just got through with a remodeling and a major contribution from the state of New York on the stadium,” Pegula told reporters Wednesday. “I feel that, in light of that, we’re not in any planning session at all right now for a new stadium. We’re still enjoying what’s been done to New Era Field.”
Based on existing agreements in place, Pegula doesn’t have much incentive at the present time to pursue the always complicated and exhaustive process that is a new stadium. The team is in the midst of a ten-year lease agreement signed with New York State and Erie County. It essentially locks the Bills into the 44-year-old facility for the next seven seasons.
But developments around the league in recent years might ultimately impact the issue. Since 2014, five teams have either moved into a new stadium or announced the construction of such a facility. It includes the Atlanta Falcons, who begin play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this coming season. And the Rams, Chargers and Raiders are awaiting the completion of two state-of-the-art stadia. All three teams have either relocated or are planning to do so.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the matter last summer. He emphasized that, current lease aside, a new stadium is the best way to remain competitive in the league. A year earlier, an architectural firm based in Los Angeles commissioned a report listing four possible stadium locations.
Having said all that, Pegula remains committed to New Era Field per the terms of the existing lease.
“Well, we have a lease through 2023, so that’s a contractual obligation,” Pegula noted. “That’s my stance on it. This is 2017, so we’ve got a long ways to go before we start worrying about anything besides where we’re at now.”