Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — The Bills are beginning their search for a new stadium in an attempt to secure their long-term future in Buffalo.
The team appointed seven people to "A New Stadium Working Group," with club President Russ Brandon and Sen. Charles Schumer among them. The move comes two days after the death of the franchise's 95-year-old owner Ralph Wilson.
"There is no better way to honor Ralph Wilson's legacy than keeping the Bills right where they belong: in western New York," Schumer said in a statement. "I am certain Ralph would want all of us to do everything we can to keep his dear Bills in Buffalo."
The Bills also announced private funeral services for Wilson will be held in his hometown of Detroit on Saturday. A public remembrance will be held at a date yet to be determined.
The other five appointees are: local developer Louis Ciminelli; Buffalo-based new Era Cap Co. CEO Christopher Koch; Jordan Levy, managing partner of SoftBank Capital; Bills chief financial officer Jeffrey Littman; and Mary Owen, a Bills vice president and Wilson's niece.
Brandon said the appointees are "passionate" about the team and recognize its importance "economically and socially to the western New York community."
The seven become the final additions to what will be a 19-member group made up of private and public leaders from across the region.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed five members to the group last month. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz named seven appointees three weeks ago.
The stadium group was a requirement of the 10-year lease the Bills negotiated with the state and county in December 2012.
The $271 million lease included the commitment of $130 million in public and private funds for upgrades at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which opened in 1973. The deal also set aside money to fund a potential new stadium or future renovations at the team's current home.