BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When the calendar turned to 2022 without a new Buffalo Bills stadium deal and lease agreement in place, many wondered if an official announcement could come Wednesday at the Governor’s annual State of the State address.
But Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz splashed water on that idea Tuesday, suggesting an agreement between the county, state and team still needs more work.
“We are not imminent to a deal,” Poloncarz said during a weekly COVID-19 briefing. “Some progress has been made, but we are not at a position where I think a deal is going to be announced any time in the next few days.”
The Bills would like to build a new stadium across the street from the current one in Orchard Park. The team’s lease to play in the current Highmark Stadium expires prior to the 2023 season.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is scheduled to hold her State of the State address at 1 p.m. Wednesday; you can watch a live stream on WIVB.com.
“I know the Governor has the State of the State address tomorrow,” Poloncarz said. “A lot of people were assuming she is going to announce it there but I do not see that being the case because we don’t have a deal, it’s as simple as that.”
Poloncarz added there have been “significant discussions” over the last two weeks and acknowledged some progress has been made in the three-way negotiations.
Any agreement to build a new stadium is expected to involve public money, though Poloncarz reiterated Tuesday there would not be a “blank check” handed to the team.
Poloncarz said he was not disappointed by missing the artificial deadline of the new year.
“I think the idea is we have to get a deal done that’s right for all, that benefits the community and ensures the Buffalo Bills are the ‘Buffalo’ Bills,” he said. “But were not, as I said, there’s never going to be a blank check. The dates are dates. If you remember back … when we did the 2013 lease, I actually announced early in my tenure in 2012 that I was hoping we’d get a deal done by training camp. and of course that’s July. We didn’t announce the deal until December, five months later. and then we didn’t actually close the deal, the official deal, until May of 2013.
“So, dates are goals. But they’re not necessarily the be-all, end-all. The goal is to get a deal done, regardless of whether it was done at any particular date. As I said, I’m never just going to roll over. There’s no blank check on behalf of the county. These are exceptionally complicated discussions. We’re talking about construction of a new football stadium, a long-term lease, and everything that goes along with it. It is not like a lease for your house. I’m not disappointed. I think what we’re doing right now is good work on all sides and hopefully we will have a deal to announce, but I just don’t see it being imminent based on where we are, and I do know where we are in the discussions.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.