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County exec: Bills lease negotiations progressing

  • Article by: CAROLYN THOMPSON
  • Associated Press
  • December 19, 2012 - 6:17 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Wednesday that progress is being made in lease negotiations between the county, state and Buffalo Bills to keep the team at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The talks, the latest of which took place Tuesday, have picked up in recent weeks, Poloncarz said, after slowing while state officials dealt with the preparation and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the East Coast in October.

"We've made plenty of progress. It's a very complicated deal," Poloncarz said. He declined to discuss details or say when an agreement might be reached.

The Bills' current lease expires July 31.

The Bills and county officials earlier this year raised the idea of extending the current agreement by one year amid concerns about the pace of negotiations. Poloncarz initially said he hoped a deal in principal would be reached by the time the Bills opened training camp this past July.

"We are certainly talking about everything but I think we all agree it makes more sense to get a long-term deal done than negotiate a one-year deal and then in six months have to pick it back up again," he said by phone Wednesday.

Buffalo Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold declined to comment on the talks. Earlier Wednesday, Chief Executive Russ Brandon told WGR radio that "we're making progress."

The latest talks were first reported by the Buffalo News.

Though the franchise's future in Buffalo is uncertain once 94-year-old owner Ralph Wilson dies, team officials have maintained their commitment to staying in Buffalo and continuing to play at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.

The biggest obstacle in negotiations has been determining how to divide up the costs for $200 million in renovations and upgrades the Bills are seeking to have done to the 39-year-old facility.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed to this report.

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