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Pegula Sports & Entertainment To Study Venue Options For Bills, Sabres

BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) - The owners of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres have hired a consulting firm to help them study possible next steps for the venues where the professional football and hockey teams play. In the case of the Bills, the upcoming feasibility analysis includes exploration of an entirely new stadium.

Hired by Pegula Sports and Entertainment to take on this project is CAA ICON, a division of entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency, which provides services including management advice for public and private entertainment and sports owners.

“The number one priority for this study is the fan experience,” said PSE President & CEO Kim Pegula in a prepared written statement. “CAA ICON has an extensive resume, having participated in dozens of first-class professional facilities, along with Harborcenter and Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena. We have the utmost confidence that CAA ICON’s unparalleled experience will help ensure that our venues achieve the highest standards.”

PSE and CAA ICON will conduct a feasibility analysis for the Buffalo Bills that seeks to identify improvements necessary to enhance both fan and player satisfaction, at either its current home venue New Era Field or in an entirely new facility. This past summer, PSE committed $18 million to build a new weight training facility for Bills players at its ADPRO Sports Training Center, located adjacent to the Orchard Park-based stadium. Completion of that project is expected by next April. That project follows another $18 million investment earlier in the year to upgrade club seating sections and digital signage.

The Bills' current lease is set to expire at the end of 2022 and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has previously suggested it would cost at least $1 billion to build a new facility.

In a written statement issued Tuesday morning, Poloncarz suggests hiring CAA ICON was expected and is "past practice for the Bills organization," noting that the late Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. brought in a consultant to look at the stadium during lease negotiations five years ago.

The PSE/CAA ICON study will also explore how to improve KeyBank Center, the Buffalo Sabres' home since 1996.

Poloncarz, in his statement, adds that the announcement of this study indicates and future action and that any final decision will come from PSE, Erie County and New York State as part of future negotiations.

"I look forward to continuing to serve in the role as chief negotiator for the county during these discussions, and in the meantime the county will continue to fulfill its commitments to improve the football stadium pursuant to the 2013 lease agreement," he wrote.

Additionally, PSE has retained global firm Populous to assist with architectural and planning services for the project. Populous' extensive portfolio includes Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in New York, Target Field in Minneapolis, Emirates Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in London and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Pegula Sports and Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Bruce Popko was scheduled to meet with local reporters to further explain the study late Tuesday morning.