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Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Buffalo Bills, has been angling for public funding to build a new stadium for the defending AFC East champions.
They’ve done so to the point where a company spokesperson said that Buffalo and the state of New York were “going to have to decide if they want a team.”
However, Josh Kosman of the New York Post reported that any public threats to move the team likely won’t come to fruition:
“But a source who knows the family and has spoken to them in recent weeks tells The Post that the threats are just that — idle threats: The Pegula family isn’t likely to move the Bills, even if they don’t get state or local funding to help build a new 60,000-seat stadium, the source said.”
“The Pegulas have made a proposal,” PSE spokesperson Jim Wilkinson said in mid-August, per Marlee Tuskes of Buffalo’s WIVB Channel 4.
“They would like to build it right there [in Orchard Park], and we need to hear back. You can’t really do plans and designs on things until you have a deal, and right now the City of Buffalo and the state are going to have to decide if they want a team.”
Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the Buffalo Sabres, is seeking $1.5 billion in public funds, per Tom Precious of the Buffalo News:
“A new stadium – that multiple sources say is expected to be built in Orchard Park adjacent to the team’s existing facility so that there would be no need to temporarily relocate to another city during a multiple-year construction effort – would cost at least $1.1 billion, with the remaining several hundred million dollars of the requested package earmarked for renovations at the Sabres’ KeyBank Center.”
Precious noted that the team hadn’t made any overt threats to move but that other cities would be happy to pay large amounts to take on an NFL franchise.
Regarding that, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported that Austin, Texas, was one of those cities:
Seth Wickersham @SethWickersham
An ownership source tells me that Austin is a possible destination—or threat—as one of the “other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it.” https://t.co/zMf1oChO8K
However, Claire Partain of Austonia reported in early September that “the move is looking more unlikely than ever a month after the rumors first began.”
The Bills have been in Buffalo for their entire existence after starting as an AFL franchise in 1960. They played at War Memorial Stadium until 1972 before moving to what is currently known as Highmark Stadium in 1973. The stadium underwent renovations in 1998 and 2013.
Leaving Buffalo would seem impossible for a region that loves its NFL team. The famed Bills Mafia is arguably the most passionate and ardent fanbase in the NFL, and it has supported its team over the years despite the team missing the playoffs for 17 straight seasons.
The Bills’ fortunes have turned around, however, with the 2020 team going 13-3 and reaching the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993.