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."