Bills one step closer to long-term lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium

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.