Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/11/12
Nixon Peabody will represent Erie County when it negotiates a new lease for Ralph Wilson Stadium this year. County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced Friday that his staff had chosen the law firm from 13 companies that submitted proposals to serve as special outside counsel for lease talks with the Buffalo Bills . "We were impressed by Nixon Peabody's tremendous amount of experience in these sorts of negotiations, including work on 10 previous NFL stadiums," Poloncarz said in a written statement. The 15-year lease for the county-owned stadium expires in July 2013, but Poloncarz has said he would like to have a deal in place by the start of training camp this summer. Formal talks have not yet begun, and county officials have said they are waiting for an architectural firm hired by the Bills to complete a study of stadium needs. Poloncarz announced shortly after taking office that he would hire an outside law firm to aid his staff in the negotiations as former County Executive Dennis Gorski had done the last time the contract was renewed. Nixon Peabody, which has offices in Buffalo and New York City, represented the county when it developed, financed and leased Crossroads Arena, now known as the First Niagara Center. Three Nixon Peabody attorneys will lead its team: Christopher L. Melvin, a managing director who works in the firm's New York office and focuses on stadium and sports finance; Elizabeth M. Columbo, a partner in the New York office who is a member of the firm's sports and entertainment practice; and Martha M. Anderson, a partner in the Buffalo office with experience in commercial lending transactions, as well as professional sports financing. The county did not provide rates from Nixon Peabody's proposal on Friday. Erie County has a risk retention fund that it uses to pay for private attorneys, as well as for legal settlements and other legal fees. County officials last month agreed to roll $5 million that was set aside last year for risk retention but was never spent into this year's fund. The county hired the law firm Hodgson Russ when it last negotiated the lease with the Buffalo Bills in 1997. email: djgee@buffnews.com
TEAMS: Buffalo Bills
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