Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Things continue to look rosy for the Buffalo Bills' future in western New York.
On Thursday, the Buffalo News reported that the Erie County Legislature voted unanimously to pass a memorandum of understanding between the team, the state of New York and the county which is another sign-post towards formalizing a 10-year lease for the club to remain at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Under terms of the new lease, the Bills are set to pay annual rent starting at $800,000 per season towards all stadium upgrades.
The team announced just days before Christmas that it had reached an accord with Erie County and the state on a 10-year lease. Under the agreement, the Bills were committed to remain in Buffalo for at least seven years, regardless of ownership.
According to the News back on December 21, a hefty relocation penalty was built into the agreement. The franchise will have to pay $400 million if it leaves before 2020. In the final three years of the contract, the fee would only be $29 million.
The deal also featured a total of $130 million that will be devoted to upgrading a venue that opened in 1973. The Bills will contribute $35 million to the cause. The state and county will share the remaining $95 million renovation costs, with $54 million coming from the state and $41 million from the county.
The renovations will be centered around improving the fan experience, including new video display boards on the stadium's east end and the creation of a new west end plaza.