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Buffalo Bills Will Not Opt Out of New Era Field Lease Early

Ralph Wilson Stadium

The Buffalo Bills have informed Erie County that they will not exercise an opt-out clause in their New Era Field lease, committing the team to an agreement that runs until 2023.

As part of a 10-year agreement that was struck in 2013, the Bills could opt-out of their lease to the stadium in Orchard Park in year seven of the deal. Doing so would have ended the agreement as of July 30, 2020, if the Bills informed Erie County of that decision by February 28 of this year.

At the county’s request, the Bills sent a letter dated January 29 stating that they will not be exercising that opt-out clause. This decision is not a surprise, as CAA Icon has completed a study of the team’s long-term stadium options and Bills owner Pegula Sports & Entertainment indicated last week that it is working internally to map out its next steps. Still, the letter gives official word from the Bills that the organization is not going to exercise the opt-out clause, solidifying their near-term plans. More from The Buffalo News:

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he asked the Bills to submit a letter showing their “commitment and good faith” to sticking with the existing stadium agreement until its expiration in July 2023.

In response, Gregg Brandon, general counsel representing the Bills, sent a letter via email and Federal Express.

“Although there is no legal requirement to do so, we are notifying the county and the ECSC that the Bills will not be exercising its right of termination as enumerated in Sec. 7.1 of the 2013 Stadium Lease,” the letter says.

ECSC refers to Erie County Stadium Corp., a subsidiary of New York State’s Empire State Development agency that represents the state’s interest in the lease.

The Bills have not yet announced whether they intend to renovate or replace the aging New Era Field, which opened in 1973 and will be the NFL’s fourth-oldest stadium as of the 2020 season.

Image courtesy Buffalo Bills.

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