As the franchise continues to evaluate its long-term facility options, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is showing his support for a new Buffalo Bills stadium.
The Bills are locked into a lease for the aging New Era Field that expires in 2023, and how they will address their long-term facility plans remains an unanswered question. In November, Bills owner Pegula Sports & Entertainment (PSE) announced that CAA Icon will conduct a study on the team’s stadium options–including a new facility or a major renovation to the existing New Era Field. The study remains ongoing, with results not expected until this summer, and any formal discussions of a new stadium or renovation will not begin until after the results of the study are finalized.
During the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Tournament on Monday, Goodell discussed the situation. He signaled his support for the Bills building a new stadium, citing his desire to see the franchise be successful and stable in Buffalo. More from the Buffalo News:
“The reason why I’m supportive is because I want to make sure this franchise remains stable here, and continues, and remains competitive,” Goodell told reporters. “And I think it’s great for this community. And we’ve been able to do these stadiums in such a way that it creates a tremendous economic benefit, too.
“I want the Bills to be successful and I want them to continue to be competitive here in Buffalo.”
For years, there have been questions about whether Buffalo–which is among the NFL’s smallest markets–can commit to a new stadium in hopes of a revenue influx for the franchise and perhaps associated economic impact locally, or if a New Era Field renovation is a more viable option. PSE, for its part, has not committed one way or another on whether its preferred solution will be a new facility or a renovation to New Era Field.
Goddell’s comments did prompt a response from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who issued the following statement:
“Commissioner Goodell’s comments are the same thing he’s said for years now. It should be noted as Commissioner he is beholden to a group of 32 very wealthy team owners, including those with teams in many larger markets, with very different stadium situations in their communities than the Bills have here in Buffalo. His interest lies not with our community but with the owners that employ him and the highest level of profit he can deliver for them. Many of these owners have placed heavy demands on their fan base and community as well, demands that could not be met in our smaller market. However, members of Bills’ Nation will at least be relieved to hear that Commissioner Goodell wants the Bills to be successful and competitive here in Buffalo.
We meet with the Bills regularly and will continue to do so to discuss all matters related to the stadium, including ensuring the security of the fans and maintenance of the current facility as well as what the future will bring. From our discussions I know Terry and Kim Pegula are committed to Buffalo and Erie County, and we are as fully committed as anyone to keeping the team here in a facility that works for all: the team and the community. Serious stadium negotiations will not commence until after the completion of the CAA Icon report, though we have had preliminary discussions on the matter. As with any negotiation, all options are on the table, including additional renovations or a retrofit of the current facility, and I look forward to representing Erie County when those negotiations commence.”
New Era Field originally opened in 1973, and is currently the sixth-oldest stadium in the NFL but is slated to move up the list after this season. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum–the NFL’s oldest venue–will lose the Rams as a tenant when a new Inglewood stadium opens in 2020. Also set for a replacement is Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum, the NFL’s fourth-oldest facility, which is expected to lose the Raiders to Las Vegas after this season.
Image courtesy Buffalo Bills.
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