Bills Sign 10-Year Lease Agreement to Keep Team in Buffalo

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2012

The Buffalo Bills have reached a 10-year lease agreement with New York State and Erie County, according to Tom Precious of the Buffalo News. The deal is expected to ensure the team's stability in western New York for the next decade.

Precious reports the agreement includes a $400 million relocation penalty to fend off parties interested in potentially buying the franchise and moving it to another city. It drops to $29 million after the seventh year of the deal.

UPDATE: Friday, Dec. 21 at 12:05 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

We have the executives' statements, but they're hardly the only ones excited. Running back C.J. Spiller took to Twitter to voice his excitement.

Glad to see we was able to sign a 10 yr lease to stay here in WNY I couldn't imagine playing in diff place,the ppl here are great.#LOYALFANS

— CjSpiller (@CJSPILLER) December 21, 2012

Clearly, everyone is thrilled by the prospect of staying in Buffalo.

---End of update---

UPDATE: Friday, Dec. 21 at 11:45 a.m. ET by Tim Daniels

Bills CEO Russ Brandon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Erie Country executive Mark Poloncarz have all made statements about the new deal. The team passed them along on Twitter.

#Bills CEO @russbrandon: "This is another shining example of Mr. Wilson's belief that this franchise can succeed long term in this region"

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 21, 2012

.@nygovcuomo: "Agreement keeps the #Bills in Buffalo for another 7 years. It commits us jointly to renovate/modernize the stadium."

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 21, 2012

.@markpoloncarz: "The #Bills will continue to be the BUFFALO Bills"

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 21, 2012

---End of update---

It's terrific news for Bills fans, who have endured 13 straight playoff-less seasons without losing faith in the team. The fanbase remains one of the most dedicated in the NFL despite those extended, ongoing struggles.

Concerns were raised that if a long-term agreement wasn't reached, the team's future would be in serious jeopardy with owner Ralph Wilson celebrating his 94th birthday in October. Those worries can now be set aside, at least for now.

The focus should now shift back to the field, where the Bills weren't able to live up to the offseason hype after signing Mario Williams to upgrade the defense. They were a popular wild-card pick before the season, but that clearly didn't pan out.

Buffalo's streak of 13 seasons without a single playoff appearance is three years longer than any other team in the league. For the vast majority of that time, the Bills simply haven't sported enough talent to compete.

A combination of poor draft selections, an unwillingness to spend money on key free agents before Williams and lackluster player development has been too much to overcome. Bills fans just hope the drought isn't approaching two decades when lease talks return.

That said, keeping the team in Buffalo was the most important thing for the city. Despite all the disappointing seasons, having no team at all is a far worse alternative.

Now fans just have to hope the renewed stability leads to more success on Sundays.