Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday there are daily discussions between community leaders working to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York, but that it’s too early to publicly discuss who might be interested in buying the team.
“There is a desire to move relatively quickly,” Schumer said during a news conference this morning in Cheektowaga. “But that’s not just with the Bills. That’s with the league and all of us who want to keep the Bills here. If we could lock somebody in early, that’s great.”
Schumer was in Western New York to highlight his efforts to boost federal funding for school safety, but addressed questions regarding the ownership of the NFL team as the estate of Ralph C. Wilson Jr. moves forward with selling the organization after the death of the longtime team owner last month.
“We’ve had a great deal of discussions. They go on on the phone, by email, on almost a daily basis,” Schumer said. “What we’re doing now is getting the lay of the land who might be interested. What they would need to stay here in Buffalo. What we would need to require them to stay here in Buffalo. It’s a little early to talk about specific owners and specific sites.”
Schumer said he is waiting for a date for the next meeting of a working group set up to explore whether the Bills could continue to play in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park once the team’s lease expires or whether a new stadium should be built.
The New Stadium Working Group, which includes Schumer, other area leaders and team representatives, was created as part of a 10-year lease agreement signed by Erie County, New York State and the Buffalo Bills last year.
The lease includes language intended to keep the team here for at least seven years even if the team is sold.
“The 10-year contract is pretty good, but we want to start thinking beyond that,” Schumer said. “We want the Bills to stay here for generations.”
Any new owner, he said, would not just be focused on the next seven to 10 years.
“They’re going to look on into the future,” Schumer said. “And that’s why having a good analysis of what’s going on and then coming up with a plan that will keep them here, working in concert with potential owners, is the right way to go. We can’t wait too long.”