Relocating Bills would be difficult task

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
8:55
AM ET
Since the Buffalo Bills signed a 10-year lease with Erie County in 2012, it has been believed that it would be difficult -- but not impossible -- to relocate the team before 2020.

Included in the lease is a $400 million penalty if the team is moved within the first seven years, prior to a one-time option to buy out of the lease for $28 million after the 2019 season. In an interview with WGR 550 last month, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz made reference to only the financial aspect of relocation and did not completely rule out the possibility.

"I've sat down and talked to [Bills CEO] Russ Brandon on this a number of times," Poloncarz said. "Numbers-wise, it would be very difficult to move this team by paying the $400 million penalty."

On his Twitter account Thursday, Poloncarz expressed a slightly different viewpoint, citing a Toronto Sun story Wednesday that said the Bills would not move prior to 2020. In a follow-up tweet, Poloncarz called the agreement "ironclad."

Whether it is "ironclad" or just "very difficult" for a new ownership group to move the team prior to 2020, the main takeaway from Poloncarz's Twitter comments Thursday is that there is a separate agreement, outside of the lease, that protects the team from relocation.

That agreement is a complex legal document that Poloncarz said was approved by the NFL. As the Toronto Sun reported Wednesday, that separate document presents the $400 million penalty as a "liquidated damages" matter, meaning it covers the county only if they can't win a court battle. It's just not as simple as the Bills (under a new ownership group) paying $400 million and walking away.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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