In the never ending quest for new and better NFL stadiums, the Bills recently have stepped from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box. But they may be fouling off pitches for a while.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula dismissed the idea that relocation is on the table, but they made it clear that getting a new stadium in Buffalo will not be easy.
“It’s a big, big nut to crack,” Kim Pegula said. “It’s going to take some patience on everyone’s part.”
Terry Pegula made it clear that the final solution will have the fans’ interests in mind, which implies strongly there will still be a team for fans to follow.
“Whatever we’re going to do stadium-wise is going to be in the best interest of our fans,” Terry Pegula said. “We have the interest of our fans at heart, and what we do will be heavily weighted — whatever the plan is — toward the benefit of our fans.”
Still, the size of the market makes that even more challenging.
“As far as professional sports teams go, Buffalo’s the biggest little city in the country,” Terry Pegula said. “And our fans need their due as far as whatever we do with venues for them to attend our games.”
The question ultimately becomes whether the biggest little city is still big enough to put together the big pile of cash needed to build a stadium — and whether the biggest little city is still big enough to generate the kind of total revenue that makes it a viable investment. It’s a delicate balance of public money that can be finagled, private money that will be devoted to it (from the team and the league), and the extent to which the ongoing CBA discussions with the union will place an enhanced portion of the financial burden on the players, via the under-the-radar-for-now issue of stadium credits, a concept that will funnel cash that otherwise would be shared by management and labor to the construction and renovation of stadiums.
Regardless, the Pegulas want folks in Buffalo to realize that recent comments from Commissioner Roger Goodell shouldn’t be viewed as ominously as some have.
“Roger knows where we stand,” Kim Pegula said. “We weren’t at all upset or thought that he was trying to say anything differently.”
The Pegulas officially stand in the corner of making it work in Buffalo, with a new stadium. But if that big, big nut ultimately can’t be cracked, the prospect of making it work elsewhere can’t be discounted — especially since the best way to get the most public money possible in one market continues to be not-so-vaguely suggesting that another market may provide a more viable location.
In other words, at the end of the day the Bills may avoid moving only if they can convince local politicians that, if necessary, they will.