BUFFALO – Bills Mafia or Austin Mafia? The owners of the Buffalo Bills are weighing the question, as they push for a new stadium in Orchard Park.
The Buffalo News reports that team owners Terry and Kim Pegula are eyeing a new NFL stadium, that would be built entirely through tax-payer money and directly next to current Highmark, formerly Ralph Wilson, stadium.
The owners are using the threat of relocating as a tactic, to win their $1.5 billion proposal.
This money would also fund renovations to the Buffalo Sabres arena which is also owned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.
Local lawmakers see the county-owned facility price tag as a non-starter, but other cities’ leadership may not agree.
Austin, Texas is a possible relocation area as one of the “other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it,” an ownership source told ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Though the team has not directly stated they would relocate if the proposal is not approved, Governor Andrew Cuomo has shown he will do what it takes to keep the team in Buffalo.
Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo’s budget office, told The Buffalo News, “Governor Cuomo is committed to the Bills staying in Buffalo, as demonstrated by the state’s contribution to the recent $130 million investment in the current stadium. The administration is fully engaged with the Bills and other stakeholders as we conduct due diligence to understand the economics around the team’s proposal ahead of the current leasing expiring in 2023.”
The Bills have called Highmark Stadium home since 1973, and would prefer it to stay that way. However, they have made it clear that Buffalo isn’t the only city willing to host an NFL team.