The future of the Bills in Western New York has been the top concern of just about everyone in Buffalo since longtime owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. passed away last month.  While local politicians and business leaders feverishly search for scenarios that would keep the team from leaving town, the possibility of a much shorter move was raised Thursday.

“We’re looking at Niagara County,” Lt. Governor Bob Duffy told the Associated Press.

Duffy is the co-chair of the New Stadium Working Group.  It’s a panel appointed by Governor Cuomo, Erie County and the Bills, tasked with exploring if a new stadium is needed.

“It’s very early days for this process and at this point I think it would be crazy to say everything wasn’t on the table,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

Dyster, who’s also a member of the panel, told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen Thursday, a potential relocation to Niagara County was discussed at the group’s first meeting last week.  Dyster believes the option would make it easier for Canadian fans to attend games.

“There’s no disputing the fact that southern Ontario is an important base of support for the Buffalo Bills franchise.  The Bills have made that very clear.  I think it’s been published report that 18-percent of current season ticket holders are from Ontario,” Dyster said.

Duffy told the AP other sites like Batavia in Genesee County are also being considered.  The search for locations outside of Erie County seems to go beyond the panel’s initial directive.

“It does specify that the group is to look at either the renovation of the existing stadium or construction of a new stadium on the land currently occupied by the existing stadium or elsewhere in Erie County.  But it’s also the case the Lieutenant Governor who’s one of the co-chairs made clear at our first meeting that from his and presumably the state’s perspective, it’s important to look at all the various options,” Dyster said. 

Dyster is the only elected official from Niagara County on the committee but he isn’t feeling pressure to advocate for the region.

“I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again.  If we manage to keep the Bills here in Western New York long-term then all the communities of Western New York are going to be winners.  If we lose the team, we’re all losers.  So I think this is a real test of our ability to pull together,” said Dyster.

The Bills signed a new stadium lease with Erie County to continue playing home games in Orchard Park last year.  Under the 10-year agreement, any new owner of the Bills would be unable to move the team until after the 2019 season.

Last week the Bills announced temporary ownership of the team had been transferred to Wilson’s Widow Mary.  The move appears to provide more time for local officials and NFL to find an owner or an ownership group interested in keeping the team in Western New York.

For Dyster, the top priority is too quickly figure the costs associated with a move or a retrofit of the current stadium.

“We know, presumably that for somebody to come forward and make that type of commitment they have to know that the team is going to be financially viable long-term and what type of stadium the Bills are playing in, where it’s located and other details of that sort,” Dyster added.