NY official: State, NFL's Bills reach stadium deal

MICHAEL GORMLEY Associated Press Published:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills have reached an agreement with Erie County and the state on a lease deal for the Ralph Wilson Stadium that will keep the NFL franchise in western New York, a state official familiar with the negotiations said Friday.

The official, who requested anonymity because the deal hasn't been announced yet, confirmed to The Associated Press that an agreement has been reached. The official said Gov. Andrew Cuomo brokered the deal.

Cuomo, team officials and County Executive Mark Poloncarz were expected to officially announce the deal at a news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the stadium in Orchard Park.

The Bills' current lease expires July 31.

The agreement, first reported Friday by The Buffalo News, is expected to include millions of dollars in renovations to the nearly 40-year-old stadium.

The deal was reached after months of talks involving the Bills, county officials and the Cuomo administration. A major sticking point determining how to divide up the costs for renovations and upgrades the Bills are seeking for their home field. According to the News, the Bills will kick in $35 million and the state and county will share the remaining $95 million renovation costs.

The newspaper reports that the deal is for 10 years, with the Bills allowed to leave after the seventh year of the contract without a financial penalty.

Though the franchise's future in Buffalo had been uncertain once 94-year-old owner Ralph Wilson dies, team officials have maintained their commitment to staying in Buffalo and continuing to play at the stadium renamed in his honor.