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Bills stadium lease talks stall with state, county

Associated Press Modified: September 12, 2012 at 9:47 am •  Published: September 12, 2012
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Lease negotiations between the Buffalo Bills and state and county officials have stalled, opening the possibility that a one-year interim deal will have to be reached for the team to keep playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium next season.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon said Wednesday that there's been no progress in talks for two months, forcing the team to readjust its plans on whether a long-term deal can be reached once the current lease expires July 31.

"They have stalled over the last few months, and hopefully, we'll restart the process and reset the calendar in the near future," Brandon told The Associated Press. "We've been ready to go and have been in discussions with the appropriate parties for many months now. Over the last few months, we've hit somewhat of a cone of silence in the discussions."

The Buffalo News first reported talks had stalled in its editions Wednesday.

The lack of progress in negotiations has already led to one setback.

Brandon said the team will miss a deadline this month to apply for an NFL loan assistance program to help offset the $200-$220 million in costs the Bills and taxpayers would share for proposed renovations and upgrades to the 39-year-old stadium.

Brandon said the Bills needed to present its proposal for loan assistance at a committee meeting in order to have it placed on the agenda for a league meeting next month. The next chance the Bills will have to do that won't be until March.

That could be too late for the Bills to receive loan assistance for next season, putting the team in a position to have to negotiate to extend its current lease by one year.

"It's certainly a possibility," Brandon said, referring to settling for a one-year deal. "We have a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time, and there are many levers to this process."

A spokesman for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo disputed the Bills' claim that talks have stalled.

"We have hired an outside expert to accelerate the negotiations, and have been in regular contact with the Bills and the county for months," Josh Vlasto said. "The assertion that the state is not committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo is absolutely, 100 percent false."

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