ADVERTISEMENT

A $130 million project to upgrade Ralph Wilson Stadium gained a necessary state approval Thursday.

The Empire State Development board of directors approved a general project plan for the stadium renovation and extension of the Buffalo Bills’ lease. The approval is one of several steps Erie County and state officials must take to formalize a memorandum of understanding with the team on a 10-year lease agreement.

The cost of the renovations will be split among Erie County, New York State and the Bills.

In addition, the state and the county have agreed to share stadium operating costs, game day expenses and team subsidies during the agreement.

Officials expect to finalize the deal in late March. Once all of the approvals are in place, including from the National Football League owners, construction is slated to begin later this year. The major portion of the stadium upgrades are expected to be finished in 2014.