Updated 01/24/2013 08:28 PM
County legislature votes to move forward on Bills lease
Erie County took another step toward making sure the Bills stay in Western New York for the foreseeable future. Legislators approved a document which allows stadium lease negotiations to be completed.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Erie County Legislature unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding which allows the county, the state and the Buffalo Bills to finish putting together a new ten-year lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"That lease package is a huge package that they're putting together so it's going to take a lot of hours to put that together, dotting I's and crossing T's," said Timothy Hogues, (D), Erie County Legislator.
Legislators expect to sign off on the completed lease too whenever it's put in front of them. They said the Deputy County Executive told them the details will be the same as what's outlined in the MOU.
"He assured us that their wouldn't be any changes from the MOU to the lease agreement and if there were, they would bring them back in front of the legislature so we can discuss them," Hogues said.
The county's share of the lease will be about $40 million.
"It'll be done in a phased approach and all of this will be publicly known," said Lynn Marinelli, (D), Erie County Legislator. "It will either come over as its own borrowed funded area or part of our package that we do every year."
But legislators said the Bills organization has a strong economic impact in Erie County.
"The income taxes and the ticket sales, the price of the sales tax on the tickets, that pretty close to makes up the difference," said Terrence McCracken, (D) Erie County Legislator.
And they say the NFL team is an important part of this region's identity.
"The constituents that I talked to, they all see the value of having the Bills here. You have to weigh the good with the bad and the good outweighs the bad here," McCracken said.
"If we were starting today, it would probably be impossible to get an NFL team," Marinelli said. "The fact of the matter is this is the Buffalo Bills. This will be the Buffalo Bills and I give a lot of credit to the Buffalo Bills."
After touring the facility, legislators got a first hand look at how the team is planning to use the money to improve the fan experience.