Bills owner Terry Pegula on new stadium plans: 'We'll look into that'

Making rare public comments about the future of the aging Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula said Wednesday that the NFL has asked him about his intentions to build a new stadium, but that he has yet to reach any decisions on the issue.

"We'll look into that," Pegula told WGR 550. "We're a different market than [Los Angeles], right?"

Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this month that the Bills have to "stay up" with modern stadiums in the NFL and other leagues, but he noted that decisions about how to extensively renovate or replace the 43-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium are between Pegula and local political leaders.

Multiple NFL owners, including the New York Giants' John Mara, told The Buffalo News at the owners meetings in March that the Bills should be making strides toward building a new facility.

"I think they think we need a new stadium, that's where they're coming from," Pegula said Wednesday of the owners' comments. "You listen to that and you make your own judgment. Our stadium is one of the older venues in the league, if not the oldest."

Ralph Wilson Stadium is the seventh-oldest stadium in the NFL, although three of the older facilities -- Arrowhead Stadium, Soldier Field and Lambeau Field -- have been extensively renovated in recent years, while the Rams are playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum until their new stadium opens in 2019. Lack of renovations to the remaining two older stadiums, the Oakland Coliseum and San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, have put in doubt the future of those franchises in their respective cities.

Pegula stated last summer that he believes the Bills have time to evaluate their options after the team completed $130 million in renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2014. The Bills' lease with Erie County runs through 2022, and county executive Mark Poloncarz has publicly questioned the need to build a new facility with taxpayer funds.

"We're not going to make any hasty decisions," Pegula stressed Wednesday. "We're evaluating."

Pegula's other sports franchise, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, plays in the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo, and the billionaire businessman has developed property around the arena in recent years. However, he said Wednesday that he has "no preference" on whether a new stadium for the Bills should be downtown or in its existing location in the suburb of Orchard Park.

"It's so early in our ownership that none of that has been heavily weighed," he said.