Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced that the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP has been selected to serve as Erie County’s (the “County”) outside counsel during upcoming negotiations with the Buffalo Bills to renew the lease agreement for Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“Today, I am proud to announce that we have selected Nixon Peabody LLP to serve as the County’s special counsel during the upcoming stadium lease negotiations with the Buffalo Bills,” said Poloncarz. “We were impressed by Nixon Peabody’s tremendous amount of experience in these sorts of negotiations, including work on ten previous NFL stadiums. Also, in addition to having a significant local presence, Nixon Peabody represented Erie County once before in the development, financing and leasing of the now-First Niagara Center. I promised to assemble the best team possible, not only to successfully negotiate a lease agreement but also to strike a fair deal for County taxpayers. I support the County Attorney’s decision, after consultation with the selection committee, in selecting Nixon Peabody, and I believe this selection fulfills our promise.”
After reviewing bids and conducting several in-person interviews over the past several weeks, the review committee chose Nixon Peabody LLP based on their extensive experience in negotiations, construction, development, financing and operation of sports facilities. Specifically, Nixon Peabody has provided counsel for work on more than 25 professional sports facilities, including 10 NFL stadiums. Additionally, Nixon Peabody has previously represented Erie County in development, financing and leasing of Crossroads Arena (now First Niagara Center).
On January 3, 2012, Poloncarz signed several Executive Orders as his first order of business as Erie County Executive. Executive Order #001—Procurement of Legal Services to Support Buffalo Bills Lease Negotiations, required the County Attorney to immediately commence a process to procure the services of special counsel to support the upcoming lease negotiations with the Buffalo Bills through the issuance of a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) from qualified law firms.
Poloncarz continued, “Keeping the Bills here in Buffalo is not only important for our economy but also critical to the framework of our community. That is why as one of my first acts as County Executive, I called on the County attorney to initiate the RFP process so that when the Bills completed their architectural survey and were ready to begin negotiations, the County would be ready as well.”
The RFP was issued on January 23, 2012 with responses from interested parties due by February 10, 2012. Responses were received from law firms across the country and region, including: Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC (Buffalo, NY), Damon Morey LLP (Buffalo, NY), Hodgson Russ LLP (Buffalo, NY), Hogan & Willig (Buffalo, NY), Kavinoky & Cook LLP (Buffalo, NY), Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP (Buffalo, NY), Nixon Peabody LLP (Buffalo, NY), Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC (Albany, NY), Phillips Lytle LLP (Buffalo, NY), Squire Sanders LLP (New York, NY), Thompson Hine LLP (Cleveland, OH), Underberg & Kessler LLP (Buffalo, NY), and Winstead PC (Fort Worth, TX).
The current lease agreement was negotiated by Erie County in 1998 under County Executive Dennis Gorski and is set to expire as of July 30, 2013.