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League owners approve stadium lease

WBFO News file photo

The NFL has approved the terms and conditions of the Buffalo Bills' recently negotiated 10-year, $271 million lease that includes significant upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The approval was granted by NFL owners at league meetings held in Phoenix on Monday, and announced by Bills president Russ Brandon.

Credit File photo

Brandon called the decision ``another important step'' in the process to allow $130 million in stadium renovations to begin this year.

The final step is for the lease to be approved by New York State and Erie County governments, which Brandon anticipates will come within a few weeks.

The Bills reached a deal in principle with Governor Andrew Cuomo and County Executive Mark Poloncarz in December. State and county taxpayers would be on the hook for $226.8 million over the 10-year period.

Also, the Bills and Erie County plan to more than double the number of law enforcement officers on duty during game days as part of the negotiated lease.  

The Buffalo News reports  that team and county officials have added the proposed security to the new lease.  The Bills want 128 more county sheriff's deputies or officers from other agencies to patrol inside and outside the county-owned stadium, with the team picking up the cost.

Private security guards hired by the team also work the games.  

The Bills have said they want to make the stadium more family-friendly after years of complaints about rowdy fans.

Governor Cuomo released the following statement in response to the approval:

“I thank Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners committee of the National Football League for approving the agreement that keeps the Bills where they belong—in Buffalo. The agreement protects taxpayer dollars and puts in place a long term plan for the team's continued presence in Buffalo. The NFL approval is an important step and I look forward to the formal signing of the stadium lease and non-relocation agreement by the Bills, the State and the County soon.”

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