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Beyond The X’s and O’s

Keeping The Bills In Buffalo

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Beyond the Xs and Os is the previously unpublished story of how a long-term stadium lease was negotiated and signed by New York’s Erie County, the state, and the Buffalo Bills football team. Mark C. Poloncarz, the elected executive of the community that owned the stadium, provides a rare glimpse into the long, difficult, but ultimately rewarding effort to successfully conclude negotiations between a National Football League (NFL) franchise, the NFL, and a multitude of players from the political arena, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and US Senator Chuck Schumer. Poloncarz discusses the financial side of sports and reveals how the county was able to navigate what proved to be often-turbulent waters. Complicating negotiations was an ongoing frenzy in the local news media, hungry for any news about the new lease, and Bills team owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who was ninety-two and had said the team would be sold upon his death, thereby possibly being relocated to another city. In the end, a new lease was signed and the Bills remained in Buffalo at a time when a number of similar sized communities watched their teams relocate to other cities in larger markets.

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