The state Assembly is pushing a “clawback” provision in its one-house budget plan, which would allow the state to recoup the money it will pitch in to renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium if the Buffalo Bills break their lease.
The Buffalo News had a writeup of the provision sought by the Assembly, which would require the National Football League team to refund the full amount of state funds provided for stadium renovations if it relocates within seven years.
But the Bills point out that their new stadium lease—which was signed by the team, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Erie County officials in December—imposes a stiff financial penalty if the team leaves within seven years. “The reason for the proposed legislation is thus a complete mystery to us,” the team said in a statement Thursday.
The 10-year lease will cost the state about $123 million in stadium upgrades and various yearly costs, while Erie County will pay $103 million and the Bills chipping in $44 million. It includes a one-time-only opportunity for the team to break the lease for $28 million after the seventh year; Otherwise the team would have to pay $400 million.
The Bills’ full statement is after the jump.
“The terms negotiated by Governor Cuomo and County Executive Poloncarz into the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) include the gold standard for fully protecting the public’s investment in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The three parties have agreed in principle to signing a binding contract that not only allows the Public Entities to get a court injunction preventing the Bills from moving before their lease term ends (specific performance), but further provides that if a court for any reason doesn’t issue such an injunction, the Bills must pay the Public Entities $400 million (liquidated damages). That sum is more than double the present value of the investments to be made by the Public Entities under the proposed lease. The team agreed in writing to both of these protections months ago. The reason for the proposed legislation is thus a complete mystery to us.”
(AP file photo)