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Roger Goodell: Bills need new stadium to stay viable in Buffalo

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Ralph Wilson Stadium will likely need to be replaced if the Bills are going to stay in Buffalo. (USATSI)
Ralph Wilson Stadium will likely need to be replaced if the Bills are going to stay in Buffalo. (USATSI)

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By NFL standards, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo is ancient. Contruction on the Bills home began in 1972 and the stadium opened in 1973. That means 'the Ralph' is 41 years old, and as you can imagine, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't a big fan of 41-year-old NFL stadiums.

During an interview in New York on Wednesday, Goodell alluded to the fact that the Bills would eventually need a new stadium if they're going to remain in western New York. The team signed a 10-year lease with Erie County in 2012 that calls for $130 million in stadium renovations, but Goodell said that's just a short-term fix for the Bills' stadium problem.

"We said at the time when they entered into a new lease that this is really a short-term solution," Goodell said, via the Buffalo News. "We need to find the right long-term solution that's good for the community and can help the Bills to continue to be successful in western New York."

To continue to be successful, Goodell hinted that the team would need a new stadium. Actually, Goodell didn't just hint that the Bills would need a new stadium, he flat-out said he's talked about it with several groups of people.

"I've had a lot of discussions with prospective owners, but I've also had discussions with public officials," Goodell said. "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."

The Bills are currently for sale and it's possible the team could identify a new owner by July. Goodell was asked on Wednesday if the league would approve an ownership group that wants to move the team.

"Well, that hasn't happened, so you're dealing with a lot of hypotheticals here," Goodell said. "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."

Thanks to the 10-year lease agreement, the Bills are more or less locked into playing at the Ralph until at least 2020 when the new ownership group could potentially buy out the final three years of the lease for a total of $28.4 million.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to realize the importance of keeping the Bills in Buffalo. That's why the state hired an architectural and design firm on Tuesday that will spend the next two months attempting to identify three or four locations where a new stadium could be built.

The firm, AECOM, has until July 11 to produce the report.

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