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Bills announce coming renovations to New Era Field's sideline clubs

Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula will fund a renovation of the suites at New Era Field this offseason, the team announced Saturday morning.

"The main element of the stadium that was not touched during the 2013 renovations was our premium areas," Bills President Russ Brandon said in an article posted on the team's official website. "We created a few new premium areas, but in general we did not address any of the premium areas that had been built in the early 90s or the sideline clubs that opened in 1999.

"None of our premium areas have been significantly updated since they were built. This is one of the critical areas that the Pegulas have been looking at upgrading since they purchased the team in 2014."

What was then called Ralph Wilson Stadium went through a $130 million renovation in 2013 as part of a 10-year lease agreement. The state and county paid $94.5 million of that, with the Bills contributing $34.455 million toward improvements that included new scoreboards, wider concourses and a new plaza.

According to the Bills, this renovation will focus on improving traffic flow within the clubs, as well as providing "a more efficient way for club seat members to congregate with family and friends while still offering all the amenities the indoor seating area provides when fans in the sideline club seats come inside during breaks in the action."

"We’re gutting the spaces and renovating them from top to bottom," Brandon told the team's website. "This project includes new furnishings and upgrades to the concession stands. We’re going to move the bar out of the center and have two service area bars at each end of the clubs. We found that the bar in the center made things congested. We’re trying to make the clubs more functional from a customer service standpoint."

Additionally, upgrades are planned for the M&T Bank and Goal Line clubs, according to the team.

Construction will begin after the conclusion of the 2017 season and is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018 season.

The Bills' lease runs through the 2022 season, though the team could get out of the final three years of that by paying $28 million. The price tag for the renovations to be taken on by the Pegulas was not disclosed, though any additional significant investment in New Era Field will lead to questions about what that means for the possibility of a new stadium.

Terry Pegula has publicly shot down any talk of a new stadium, most recently at training camp.

"That's a contractual obligation," Pegula said of the team's current lease. "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."

Kim Pegula told WKBW-TV in late July that talks about a new stadium with state officials were "forthcoming." Terry Pegula later disputed that.

"I don't know when she said that," he said during a session with reporters at St. John Fisher College, "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."

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