The Bills have been calling Buffalo home for more than 60 years, but that's something that could change in the near future if the team doesn't get a new stadium deal.
To make a deal happen, the team will have to negotiate with with Erie County and the state of New York. If the sides can't come together and agree on a new stadium deal by the time the Bills' lease in Buffalo runs out in July 2023, the team has confirmed that it will not renew its lease at Highmark Stadium.
During an interview on Thursday with WBEN in Buffalo, Pegula Sports and Entertainment senior vice president Ron Raccuia made that very clear.
"No, we absolutely will not [renew the lease]," Raccula said.
Without a lease in place, the Bills would be free to move to a different city. The lease will officially expire on July 31, 2023, which means there's a chance that the 2022 season could be the team's final one in Buffalo if they can't get a new stadium deal ironed out.
The good news for Bills fans is that right now, leaving Buffalo isn't something the team is really thinking about.
"We're not even focused on that, yet," Raccula said when asked about possibly relocating. "We're just committed to getting everybody together as quickly as possible to get to a solution. Talking about options and 'what happens if,' that serves no purpose. It's not where any of our focus or resources are being dedicated."
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The Bills are hoping to build a smaller stadium that would seat 60,000 fans. The Bills want the stadium built in time for the 2027 season, which is one reason why they want to get a stadium deal done before their lease is up in 2023.
A big reason the Bills have to negotiate with the county and the state is because the team wants the public to foot the bill for half of the $1.4 billion project, something NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed last month.
"We're focused on keeping the Bills here in a new stadium in a public, private partnership," Goodell said. "That's what this is all about and that's where we're focusing."
If the stadium deal gets done before the lease expires in 2023, the team WILL renew its lease at Highmark Stadium. The plan would be to sign a lease at the old stadium and then play there until the new stadium is ready, which the Bills are hoping would happen by 2027.
If a new stadium deal doesn't happen, moving out of Buffalo wouldn't be out of the question for the Bills. Many teams have been known to threaten relocation if they don't get the public funds they want for a new stadium and an indirect threat came last month when a report speculated that Austin, Texas could be a possible landing spot for the team. Austin might not be a serious option now, but the longer things go without the Bills getting a new stadium deal in western New York will make it more likely that the team moves.
Basically, the Bills have made it as clear as possible that they'd consider leaving Buffalo if they can't get a new stadium deal done, which is going to make this a situation to watch closely over the next 22 months