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Kim Pegula on new Bills stadium: 'I don't even know if we can get there'

Kim Pegula on new Bills stadium: 'I don't even know if we can get there'

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New Era Field had $130 million in renovations in 2014 as part of an agreement to extend the lease to 2023. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo)

ATLANTA — Kim Pegula sees the Buffalo Bills facing a difficult road toward a new stadium, because all entities involved will balk at contributing to a price tag likely to exceed the team’s purchase price of $1.4 billion.

“I don’t even know if we can get there,” the team’s co-owner told The Buffalo News while attending the NFL spring meeting. “I know fans in Buffalo don’t want higher ticket prices, they don’t want PSLs (personal seat licenses). The state doesn’t want to give you any money, the city doesn’t ... We don’t have a billion-and-a-half dollars sitting around. We used it to buy the team.”

Pegula said she and Pegula Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Bruce Popko have taken the lead on the Bills’ long-term stadium planning since Russ Brandon’s May 1 resignation as president of PSE and its sports franchises.

“It’s going to be hard, so that’s why we’re trying to get all the options,” Pegula said.

Noting that five years remain on the Bills’ lease with Erie County for New Era Field, Pegula said her organization was “still fact-finding,” echoing comments her husband and team co-owner Terry Pegula made at the NFL meeting in Orlando, Fla., in March.

The Bills' current lease expires in the summer of 2023, although the Bills can opt out in 2020. The team has said it has no plans to opt out. The stadium had $130 million in renovations in 2014 as part of an agreement to extend the lease to 2023. In March, the NFL also approved an $18 million renovation to improve the stadium's sideline clubs and signage. The renovation will be privately funded.

“We don’t know what the decision is going to be at the end of the day, but if we don’t start the work and get the information, we can’t even get there to make a decision,” Pegula said. “I'm guessing it's going to take a couple of years. I know that, at the end of the day, what we want to do is we want to make sure we have all our information, go through the whole planning process so then we can say, ‘Listen, this is what it’s going to require. Either we can get there (or not).’ The state or the county, no one’s going to like give you anything until you give them a reason (as) to why.

“We’re having internal discussions and we’re setting up a strategy and a timeline, taking into account all the things that need to go on. There’s a lot of people involved and engaged from the state, the county, the city, the community, us as the organization. And the league has a big, big say in what goes on. There’s a small group of us (from PSE), Bruce being one of them, that has meetings set up with different people engaged in those different organizations to help us kind of really get a grasp on, ‘OK, what is our strategy going to be? What is the road map?’ And that's where we are, trying to build that and getting that information.

“That’s why we’re starting with kind of these internal beginning stages of getting all that information. And it may be nothing happens, it may be we make renovations, it may be that we build a new stadium. But we’ve got to get the information first.”

Kim Pegula wielding unprecedented power, faces heavy lift with Bills, Sabres

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