A new Bills lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium is still expected, but it won’t be coming as soon as previously expected.
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz has revised his prior prediction that the main terms on a new lease will be resolved by the start of training camp, according to the Buffalo News.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Poloncarz said. ”Every party knows where the other one stands. Now, it’s just that final time where you sort of butt heads with each other until you reach an agreement. So I feel confident we’re going to get an agreement done by the end of the year.”
The current lease expires on July 31, 2013, which means that, as a practical matter, it expires after the 2012 season. Which means that, if for some reason the team is sold between now and early 2013, the team could move, in theory, by next season.
The Bills would have to apply for permission to relocate by February 15, 2013.
It’s highly unlikely that the Bills will relocate, but until a new lease is buttoned up, an opportunity to walk away after the coming season remains.
Poloncarz has said that the county wants a contract that makes it difficult if not impossible for the team to break the lease. He also has said that the county won’t “give away the store” to keep the team.
It would be a shock if they don’t get the deal done. Still, the fact that Poloncarz has been talking so much at a time when the Bills are saying nothing suggests that the Bills are driving a hard bargain. And that Poloncarz knows, even if he doesn’t “give away the store,” that the county will have to give up plenty to keep the team around — especially if the county wants a lease that makes it even harder for the Bills to leave.