The National Football League should alter its G-4 loan program to allow the Buffalo Bills access to as much as $25 million for improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.
Changes to the NFL’s stadium loan financing program will improve the Bills’ chances of staying in Buffalo, Schumer said during a news conference at the Orchard Park facility.
The Bills have announced plans to renovate the stadium. Certain details of the G-4 program substantially reduce its benefit to helping fund the improvements, Schumer said.
The program allows teams to receive matching dollars on favorable terms from a league loan pool for investments teams make in stadium renovations, Schumer said. However, he added, all loans are required to be repaid to the NFL in full if the team is sold.
The life of the loan could be as long as 20 years, Schumer said. Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. is 93.
Schumer wants to amend the program so the loan would not have to be repaid in full if the team is sold by an owner of at least 20 years. Wilson has owned the Bills since their inception in 1960.
“I will do everything in my power to keep the Bills right here in Buffalo,” Schumer said in a statement. “Because of their unique situation, the bottom line is that the NFL’s loan program to upgrade stadiums, as structured, is practically useless for the Bills.
“Making some basic, common-sense changes to this key NFL loan program is something that can generate significant resources for much-needed stadium renovations, and could do so in a way that provides significant incentive for any future owner to keep the team in Western New York.”
Schumer also called on the NFL to maintain a G4 rule requiring that new owners be penalized for moving teams before the terms of the loan expire.
The team, stadium owner Erie County and state government officials are negotiating a new lease agreement for the facility.
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