BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Progress is being made in negotiations to extend the Buffalo Bills lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium and the $200 million price tag for renovations that comes with it, leaving county officials hopeful an agreement in principle could be reached by the end of next month.
The lease talks, combined with the Bills' bid to extensively renovate the 40-year-old stadium, are regarded as a key phase in securing the small-market franchise's long-term future in Buffalo.
"I feel there's agreement on some basic principles, and as a result I feel that we're headed in the right direction," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said by phone on Friday. "It is my goal as well as the Bills' organization to have the general terms hammered out by the start of training camp."
The first step would be reaching what Poloncarz called a "memorandum of understanding," which would encompass the framework of the agreement by the time the Bills open training camp on July 26.
The next step would be just as comprehensive and involve lawyers preparing an actual lease to be signed before the Bills' current deal expires in July 2013.
Poloncarz confirmed the renovation price tag at being between $200 million and $220 million and would take about three years to complete, with the work done during the NFL offseason.
Up for discussion is how much of the team's wish-list of needs will be included and how to divide the costs between the county, state as well as the Bills.
With Erie County having limited resources, Poloncarz also expects New York State to provide a commitment, since the team is estimated to generate between $15 million and $20 million in state taxes.
Though Bills owner Ralph Wilson has maintained he has no intention of selling or relocating the team during his lifetime, the 93-year-old Detroit-based businessman isn't getting any younger. And concerns continue to be raised as to what might happen to the franchise upon his death, because Wilson has not revealed a succession plan beyond having his heirs sell the team.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press