Bills threaten move to Austin in negotiation for stadium funding: report

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By and , The Associated Press and Buffalo News

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - It's no secret the Buffalo Bills are in the early negotiating process for a new stadium for the NFL franchise owned by Terry and Kim Pegula.

It seems a key negotiating play was made Sunday when sources for the owners revealed to The Buffalo News they would be seeking full public funding for an estimated $1.1 billion facility to replace the current Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

"My initial thought is, good luck, that's not happening," Business Insider's Dave Levinthal said on WBEN's Hardline program Sunday. "It being a purely publicly funded stadium seems highly unlikely, especially at that price tag, when there are so many other competing public priorities."

"This can't be a fully public financed kind of a thing," New York State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt told WBEN Sunday. "They own the team, they bought the team knowing the stadium situation."

Additional funding would also be needed for enhancements to be made at Key Bank Center, the home of the Buffalo Sabres, according to the News report.

Making the early negotiations even more interesting is information revealed Sunday by ESPN's Seth Wickersham, who tweeted, “An ownership source tells me that Austin is a possible destination – or threat – as one of the ‘other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it."

Both the News report and Wickersham's tweet appear to be a sign that the Pegula's are opening their talks with New York State and Erie County with a strong play for full public funding and the shadow of a possibility that the franchise has a more than viable alternative if talks go sour.

It's also interesting to note that the Pegulas also selected a company controlled by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the New York Yankees to represent them in negotiations, VenuesNow.com reported recently.

The publication cited “industry sources” in reporting the Jones-Yankees controlled Legends Global Planning firm being selected to represent Bills owner Terry and Kim Pegula in discussions. The publication also reported, a company division, Legends Global Sales, was selected to sell sponsorships and seat licensing for the prospective new stadium.

The partnership with Legends makes sense as Terry Pegula has developed a close friendship with Jones. The Yankees connection is also considered important, because the Major League baseball team is considered to have clout at the state level.

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