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Roger Goodell: NFL committed to Buffalo, but Bills need new stadium


NEW YORK -- Roger Goodell is confident the Buffalo Bills will continue to be successful in Western New York, but to do so will require a new stadium.

The NFL commissioner spoke on the future of the team today at an NFL-sponsored Play 60 event at Chelsea Waterfront Park in Manhattan, ahead of Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft.

"They are working on their process as far as selecting their advisers. They will probably do that in the near future. Then when they have their advisers selected, they'll start a more formal process," Goodell said when asked for an update on the sale of the team.

Goodell said he's optimistic about the team's long-term future in Western New York.

"I’ve had a lot of discussions with prospective owners, but I’ve also had discussions with public officials. We all want to focus and get that stadium and do it the right way and get the right ownership in there to make sure they continue to be successful in Western New York," he said.

Goodell added that the Bills will eventually require a new stadium.

"We said at the time when they entered into their new lease, that this is really a short-term solution. We need to find the right long-term solution that is good for the community and can help the Bills continue to be successful in Western New York, and I’m confident we’ll get there," he said.

When the Bills signed their 10-year lease with Erie County in December 2012 that called for $130 million in improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium, part of the agreement included the formation of a "New Stadium Working Group," which would explore the feasibility of a new stadium. That group has since been formed -- it held its first meeting last month -- with representatives from the state, county and team.

The News reported last month that the sale of the team is on a fast track, and could be completed in time for owners to vote on it at their annual meeting in October. Approval of 75 percent of the league's owners is required.

Goodell was asked whether the NFL would even approve an ownership group with designs on moving the team -- specifically from Toronto -- if purchasing the team meant for the next five seasons, the Bills would be lame ducks (there is a one-time escape clause in the current lease after the 2019 season, for $28.4 million).

"Well, that hasn’t happened, so you’re dealing with a lot of hypotheticals in there. There’s two votes. There’s one vote to approve an ownership, and if a team potentially relocates, it’s another vote. We’re not making those one vote. We’re making those two separate votes. And the intention is, whoever buys the team will be trying to make the team work in Western New York."

  • BillyT92679

    Yeah, this is all pretty self-evident. New stadium equals the team here through the rest of our lives.

  • Dan R

    the Bills, NYS, Erie county, Niagara county, fans, etc... Need NOT be cheap here. Just go for it and build a nice retractable roof facility that can be used for events year-round. The technology is not new anymore. Don't short-cut this by going for the cheap option. C'mon Buffalo, be BigTime for once.

    • boxgreen

      What other events would be used in a stadium this size year-round?

      • Dan R

        You don't necessarily need events that fill up the stadium,, just off the top of my head.... NCAA Bball tourney 3rd&4th round, UB Football, concerts, Regional and State high school football championships, the proposed NFL east coast scouting combine, conventions needing a large floor, etc..

        • Jamie Rozek

          Have an attached convention center, which could even use the stadium AS a large convention center.

          • boxgreen

            Google "convention center glut." Convention centers are pretty much money-losers. Many cities massively over-built CCs in the 80s and 90s. As much as I'd like to see the current hideous CC bulldozed, I'm not sure if it makes sense to throw good money after bad by building a new CC here, especially as a mid-sized city with unwelcoming winter weather.

  • boxgreen

    Maybe the NFL and the new owner can contribute a significant portion of the new stadium's cost, as it will be primarily (or exclusively) for their benefit.

    • Please, Say it ain’t so!

      The NFL and the new owner(s) should foot the ENTIRE BILL. As you said, it's for their benefit. We (the taxpayers) get nothing so we should contribute nothing!! If they don't want to ante up, say 'goodby', we don't need any more tax eaters.

  • Rich

    If a new stadium requires taxpayer dollars then the taxpayers should 'approve/disapprove' the deal in a referendum.

    • Please, Say it ain’t so!

      I agree 100%!! A stadium would be for the exclusive use of the team. The (raw) deal now is: the Bills get all the $$'s from the use if the facility When it's used for anything. So the taxpayers get boned. We pay for everything and get nothing. Great deal, huh??? BOHICA!!

  • Jamie Rozek

    A new stadium needs to include facilities that can be used year-round, not just 8 times a year. I loved the convention center idea. THAT is a viable stadium that will be a great asset to the area. However, I'm sure you can still include more.

  • frankpgi

    Good grief, a new billion dollar stadium for the Bills to use around 12 times a year.We presently are updating the existing stadium for hundreds of thousands of dollars.I quess money does grow on tress in Buffalo as long as that money is spent on billionaires.

  • jtown

    I don't get the new stadium talk. Whats is the point.

    Please upgrade the current facility to the point that building a new one is not necessary. What a waste a new stadium would be.

    If they build a new stadium it will be way too expensive and all the charm of the ralph and tailgating will be lost to a new cheezy, no character stadium and stadium experience.

    Went to a game in Dallas and it seem like going to a show at shea's than a football game. Everything looked too put together, modern art everywhere, and they had more crap at the game, dancers, bands, and looked like the game was a sideshow. Worse part about it the people seemed to love it all. Absolutely terrible NFL experience. So watered down and so very strange.

  • Frank Buxton

    Goodell should have opened his mouth sooner. Regardless of Wilson's health. It could have saved $130,000,000 from being dumped into the stadium wrongly named after Ralph and put towards a new one.

    Goodell ought to be ashamed, he knows this areas situation as a one time WNY'er.

  • Please, Say it ain’t so!

    If Goodell is so 'committed' to keeping the Bills in Buffalo, maybe he should 'commit' to a new stadium. Let the team and the NHL pay for their playground.

  • Jeff

    Moving the Bills across town to the US side of Niagara Falls is a no brainer! Has anyone visited the US side of Niagara Falls recently? Probably not, because it is a dump. The area is a total wasteland and embarrassment to the region as compared to the gorgeous and very popular Canadian side. Everyone goes to the Canadian side! There is easily enough land to develop an INCREDIBLE NFL showcase including hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc... and with the Falls as your backdrop... wake up Buffalo!

    • boxgreen

      I agree that NF NY is most certainly a dump. I do question whether a new stadium in NF would spin off any other development like restaurants or shopping. After all, RWS has been in OP for 41 years, and there is hardly any development that is there because of the stadium.

  • Pat

    I would like to see a stadium downtown

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.