The Buffalo Bills have added seven members, including New York's senior U.S. senator, to a panel exploring options for potentially replacing Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills announced Thursday that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, three team executives and three local business leaders will serve on the New Stadium Working Group.
One of the team executives named to the panel, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon, said the organization is looking forward to participating in discussions with the group.
"The seven individuals we have selected for the committee are passionate about the Buffalo Bills franchise and recognize its importance, both economically and socially, to the western New York community," Brandon said in a statement. "These individuals have a good understanding of our franchise and the National Football League. They also understand the impact of the team's relationship with the business community and the significance to all western New Yorkers, particularly our fans."
With the Bills' additions, the working group now has 19 members. Erie County appointed seven and the state has named five, including Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Along with Brandon, Bills chief financial officer Jeffrey Littman and Mary Owen, the team's executive vice president of strategic planning, will serve on the committee. New Era Cap Co. CEO Christopher Koch, LPCiminelli chairman Louis Ciminelli and Jordan Levy, managing partner of SoftBank Capital, were also added to the panel.
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But adding Schumer, D-N.Y., to the working group is perhaps the most significant part of Thursday's announcement.
Schumer is one of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate and could be a major asset as the team explores the possibility of building a new stadium to keep the team in Buffalo.
In a statement, Schumer mentioned the recent death of Bills owner Ralph Wilson and said he will do his part to keep the team in Buffalo.
"While we are still mourning his passing, there is no better way to honor Ralph Wilson's legacy than keeping the Bills right where they belong: in western New York. I am certain Ralph would want all of us to do everything we can to keep his dear Bills in Buffalo," Schumer said in a statement.
"I was proud to be asked by the Bills to serve on the New Stadium Working Group, and I look forward to working with all of the committee members, the county, the state, the team and the local community to make sure fans can continue to cheer on the Bills in western New York for years to come. Keeping the Bills in western New York has always been one of my top priorities, and it will remain that way throughout this process."
The working group was formed after the Bills reached an agreement with Erie County and the state to keep the team in Buffalo. The agreement also included $130 million to help the team pay for renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team showed off the renovations this week, but news of the tour was overshadowed by Wilson's death.