Report: Bills See Austin as a 'Possible Destination' amid Buffalo Stadium Talks

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 1, 2021

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: A general view of the Buffalo Bills logo on the field before a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks at Bills Stadium on November 8, 2020 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills reportedly see Austin, Texas, as a possible destination if they relocate over stadium negotiations, according to Seth Wickersham of ESPN.

Tom Precious of the Buffalo News reported the Bills are seeking $1.1 billion of publicly funded money to cover the cost of a new stadium in Orchard Park, New York, just outside Buffalo. 

Though the Pegula Sports and Entertainment ownership group has not made any official relocation threats, Precious noted that "it has made clear to government negotiators that there are other cities elsewhere that desire an NFL franchise and would pay handsomely for it."

The team's current venue, now known as Highmark Stadium, has been the Bills' home since 1973. The Bills' lease expires in 2023, and they are seeking a resolution before that timeframe.

The asking price could still be high for State of New York and Erie County officials, with Precious reporting the team wants 100 percent of public funds to pay for the stadium. Some stadiums are funded with no public money while others have as much as 70 percent.

Co-owner Kim Pegula previously explained their inability to pay for a new stadium.

"I don’t even know if we can get there," Pegula told Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News in 2018. "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."

Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the team for $1.4 billion in 2014.

A lack of a new stadium could create an opening for relocation, which has become increasingly common in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers both moved to Los Angeles and the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas, all within the past five years.

A move to Austin would give the 10th largest city in the United States its first NFL team and only franchise in the four major sports. MLS expansion team Austin FC is in the midst of its first year in 2021.

Of note, the Austin City Council members who spoke to Ryan Autullo of the Austin American-Statesman were not aware of the Bills' interest in the city prior to Sunday's report.

The Bills also have experience playing in Toronto, Canada, with six regular-season games taking place at the Rogers Centre from 2008-13.