PITTSFORD – Terry Pegula said Wednesday a new stadium is not on the immediate horizon for the Buffalo Bills.
While speaking with reporters at the team's training camp, the Bills' owner noted that the team has a lease with Erie County through 2023.
"That's a contractual obligation," Pegula said. "That's my stance on it. This is 2017, so we've got a long ways to go before we start thinking about anything besides where we're at now."
When a reporter pointed out that the Bills have an out clause in 2020 and asked if he would ever consider using it, Pegula responded, "Where we going to go?"
Pegula's wife and Bills co-owner Kim Pegula told WKBW-TV last week that talks about a new stadium with state officials were "forthcoming." Terry Pegula made it sound as if that were news to him.
"I don't know when she said that," Pegula said. "But we just got through with a remodeling and major contribution from the state of New York in the stadium. I feel that, in light of that, we're not in any planning session at all right now for a new stadium. We're still enjoying what's been done to New Era Field."
In March, The News reported that the NFL's stance on a new stadium for the Bills had softened.
According to a high-ranking NFL source at that time, the league believed that the Pegulas were doing the right thing by taking their time before committing to a move from New Era Field. Although the Bills and the NFL would contribute to the cost of building a new stadium, public money would also be involved.
"They want the team to have some success before asking for things," the source told The Buffalo News during the NFL's annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in March.
The Bills have missed the playoffs for the past 17 seasons.
The source also said the Pegulas told the league they're still early in the process of establishing themselves as owners of the Bills and understanding the dynamics of the franchise's relationship with the community. They bought the team from the trust of the late Ralph Wilson in October 2014.
Pegula touched on several other topics, including:
Coach Sean McDermott's camp compared with the previous ones he has observed. "I don’t like to make comparisons. All I can tell you is that Sean is very detailed and very thorough, and a terrific planner. When we interviewed Sean, I had the impression that he was a very thorough and detailed person and it shows out in everything he does at the camp."
His communication with McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane. "It’s very causal. I like things low-key. So, I may walk into his office unannounced and we talk for an hour or he may come into my office or Brandon or whoever. So, that’s the way I like to do things, rather than be official and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a meeting next Tuesday at 3 o’clock,’ because I may not be there if something else happens."
What he notices while watching practice. "I like to focus in on one-on-one battles between two players. Maybe a tight end blocking, a corner-wide receiver battle. That’s what I like to look at. You know, then I watch film afterwards with the guys and learn something from them, too."
His expectations for this season. "My expectation is that we earn some respect on the field. I believe that’s important then wherever it falls, it falls. I really believe that. ... I think if you put the pieces of the puzzle together, the respect, earn it, work hard, diligence, be thorough, I think that’s how you get in the playoffs. Hopefully, we can do that this year."
Whether it's difficult to be patient with waiting for the Bills and Sabres to become contenders. "No, not for me. We just keep trying and working. If you’re talking about the Sabres, we built on draft picks, we tore the existing team apart and built through the draft. With the Bills, you can see what we do. Obviously we do our draft work, but we’re trying to bring in quality free agents, leaders, the kind of guys Sean and Brandon want on a football team that can help them in the locker room."
Whether, after firing Rex Ryan two years into a five-year contract, he has a different mindset with McDermott. "When we talk to Sean, he’s such a diligent planner and he’s so thorough that he commands that. He’s got a plan, and part of his plan is bringing in players who think the way he thinks, and I think that’s a good way to start."
Whether he feels the Bills are disrespected on the field by those around the NFL. "No, but that’s what you need to win. You need to have respect. When teams come in to Buffalo to play, they need to be talking about it on the way up saying, ‘Oh, gosh, we’ve got to go to Buffalo. Let’s hope we can get one out of here.’"
The Bills not picking up the fifth-year option of the rookie contract of wide receiver Sammy Watkins. "I don’t like to talk about a player’s contract publicly, but it’ll play out this season. Sammy looks pretty good right now and we’ll see what happens."
The state of the Bills' quarterback position. "Well, we have three quarterbacks on the roster right now that are battling for playing time and we’ll see how it plays out. Tyrod (Taylor) can be a weapon, (Nate) Peterman is young, seems to be intelligent, and T.J. (Yates) is a guy that’s been around before, won a playoff game, so we’ll see what happens. It’s what we have on our roster and we’re going to go with it."
Whether there's any concern that a long-term deal for Sabres star Jack Eichel won't get done before the season. "I don’t want to discuss any negotiations with Jack publicly. But, I can tell you this: we want Jack and Jack wants to be in Buffalo. That’s all I can say about that."