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Buffalo Bills reach deal to stay in western New York

The Buffalo Bills take the field before their NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Toronto, December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Bli
The Buffalo Bills take the field before their NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Toronto, December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Bli

(Reuters) - The Buffalo Bills have reached an agreement that will keep the National Football League team in western New York for at least the next seven years, the team said on Friday.

The deal, which includes a 10-year lease for the Bills' current stadium and $130 million in upgrades to the facility, ends speculation that the team might be targeted for relocation because of its small market.

"This agreement ensures the Bills stay where they belong right here in New York, while also protecting tax payer dollars and putting in place a longer-term vision for the team's continued presence in Buffalo," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The Bills, who play their home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a Buffalo suburb called Orchard Park, are committed to remain there for at least seven years regardless of ownership, the team said in a news release.

If after the seventh year, the Bills do not buy out the remaining three years of the lease, they would need to pay $400 million to break it, The Buffalo News reported.

The lease also allows the Bills to play one preseason game every other year and one regular-season game each year in Toronto, the newspaper reported.

To pay for the stadium improvements, the Bills will provide $35 million, New York state $54 million and Erie County, New York $41 million.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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