Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently undergoing $130 million in upgrades. (Bill Wippert/AP)
Amid rampant relocation rumors, the Bills organization is pursuing a new stadium in Buffalo and a new ownership group that intends to keep the team there. The current $130 million renovation project underway at Ralph Wilson Stadium this offseason was built into the team's most recent extension of its lease, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that only a more dramatic change of scenery could keep the Bills afloat in their current home city.
Goodell, speaking to media members Wednesday ahead of the 2014 NFL draft, was asked about the Bills' unstable ownership situation and said the franchise would eventually need a new stadium to remain viable in Buffalo, according to Jay Skursky of The Buffalo News.
"I’ve had a lot of discussions with prospective owners, but I’ve also had discussions with public officials. We all want to focus and get that stadium and do it the right way and get the right ownership in there to make sure they continue to be successful in Western New York," he said.
Goodell added that the Bills will eventually require a new stadium.
"We said at the time when they entered into their new lease, that this is really a short-term solution. We need to find the right long-term solution that is good for the community and can help the Bills continue to be successful in Western New York, and I’m confident we’ll get there," he said.
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There has been talk of moving the Bills to the Niagara Falls area or to Ontario, but neither possibility has picked up much steam. The Bills will play in Buffalo through the 2019 season, and conflicting reports surround the team's options from there related to its stadium lease, which expires in 2022.
Thankfully, that should give potential new ownership plenty of time to hatch a plan to keep the team in Buffalo, along with a new stadium to boot. Goodell reiterated that any prospective ownership group would be considered under the assumption that it would attempt to keep the team in Western New York.
For now, the Bills will continue to play their games in Ralph Wilson Stadium, one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. The current round of renovations, set to be completed by the team's first preseason game in August, include additional restrooms and concession stands, a new team store and new video boards for both ends of the stadium.
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