Terry Pegula: Stadium will take time

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Upon being introduced Friday, new Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula addressed the future of 41-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium, stressing patience as the team aims to build a new facility.

"I said in the back room, I hope I don't have to spend the next eight years of my life answering stadium questions. We will gradually proceed to plan and design a stadium for the Buffalo Bills," Pegula said. "You know, these things take time. It takes time to get this stuff organized.

"Where is the stadium going to go and whatnot? I realize it seems to be a significant issue but it wasn't when we bought the team. We wanted to get the team first. We always have to have the prize before you can build the arena."

As part of their current 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which began last season, the Bills created a new stadium working group earlier this year that was put on hiatus as the Bills searched for a new owner.

Local and state politicians have been adamant about keeping open the possibility of an extensive renovation to the stadium, which is among the NFL's oldest, while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has pushed for a completely new facility in the region.

"We'd all love to have a shiny, new stadium. I think we're all about trying to improve the experience, but we just spent $130 million on a renovation and we're two games in," president Russ Brandon said Friday. "We've got a lot of time, the way the lease is constructed, to make an informed decision as we move forward."

The Bills introduced Pegula -- who also owns the NHL's Buffalo Sabres -- in front of a large crowd Friday that included Sabres president Ted Black and general manager Tim Murray.

Pegula became emotional early in the news conference, shortly after the Bills tweeted a letter from Pegula and wife Kim that read, in part, "The Bills are here to stay." There had been questions about the Bills' future in the region following the death of team founder Ralph Wilson in March.

"I know there's been comments about how much I paid," he said. "I want to ask our fans if I overpaid. I know they'll tell you."

A native of Pennsylvania with ties to Buffalo, Pegula takes over the Bills as they hold the NFL's longest postseason drought, having not appeared in the playoffs since 1999.

"Owning any professional team is about winning," Pegula said. "The primary goal of our ownership will be to win the Super Bowl and bring championships to the city of Buffalo. Myself and my family will dedicate ourselves to that."

Pegula declined to disclose how ownership of the team is divided between him and his wife. The couple lives in Florida and will maintain permanent residence in that state.

Pegula also did not address the future of coach Doug Marrone or general manager Doug Whaley, who both are in their second seasons in their current positions with the team.

"I wouldn't automatically assume there's going to be changes. We sit here, owning the team a few days. So I haven't given that any discussion. We like the job Russ [Brandon] is doing with the organization," Pegula said. "We're learning as we go."

Brandon, meanwhile, voiced strong support for Marrone and Whaley, whom he hired last year.

"We're 21 games into Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley's career. We're one draft into Doug Whaley's career as a Buffalo Bills general manager," he said. "You've heard me say it many times: How you don't win is having seven head coaches, nine offensive coordinators, seven defensive coordinators and six general managers since 1998.

"We need continuity and we need to continue to play winning football, and we're pleased with everything that is happening on the field right now."