Where’s the money?
National Football League training camps are in full operation and this much is known. Mark Davis’s Raiders franchise is playing out the clock in Oakland and getting ready for 2020 when Davis opens his new taxpayers’ subsidized Las Vegas stadium. Meanwhile there is another NFL deadline looming, this one for Buffalo Bills ownership. After the 2019 season ownership can break the present lease. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has put Buffalo and western New York on notice that it is his opinion that the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise needs a new facility. Goodell was at a charity golf outing in western New York in June when he threw down the gauntlet. “The reason why I’m supportive is because I want to make sure this franchise remains stable here and continues and remain competitive. And I think it’s great for this community. And we’ve been able to do these stadiums in such a way that it creates a tremendous economic benefit, too. I want the Bills to be successful and I want them to continue to be competitive here in Buffalo.” Bills ownership has been less verbal about the need for a new stadium.
Bills ownership’s lease in Orchard Park ends in 2023 but there is an opt out clause allowing the Bills franchise to leave. In 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo found state money that was part of a deal to spend $130 million to fix up the stadium in exchange for extending the team’s lease. Buffalo got an American Football League franchise in 1959 and was a contender for an NFL team in 1950 after four years in the All-American Football Conference. But the 1959 Buffalo is not the same as today’s Buffalo which is much smaller and far less wealthy. Buffalo might not even be considered by NFL owners if the city was vying for a team today.