The Buffalo Bills NFL American football team is reportedly exploring options for a new stadium, with the lease on its current home due to expire in 2023.
The Bills have played at Highmark Stadium (formerly New Era Field) since 1973. In February 2020, the team chose not to use an early opt-out clause to terminate its lease agreement for the 71,000-seat stadium, ensuring its immediate future at the venue.
The Bills had been canvassing opinions from supporters on whether it should build a new home or renovate the existing facility. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has previously suggested that the Bills need a new stadium in order to remain competitive, and the team has been working with strategic management consulting firm CAA Icon to assess the potential for a new venue.
It has now been reported that the Bills would prefer to build a new stadium in Orchard Park, where Highmark Stadium is located. CBS Sports, citing an initial report from RochesterFirst.com, noted that the new stadium would be open-air but with a partial covering for fans, with a targeted completion date of 2025 at the earliest.
The Venues Now website has reported that the Bills have appointed Legends Global Sales to sell sponsorships and premium seats for the team’s prospective new stadium in a deal that also includes a potential new home for the Washington Football Team. Legends Global Planning is also said to have signed on as the Bills’ representative in the team’s plans to build a new stadium.
Should the Bills opt to build a new stadium next to Highmark Stadium, the team may be required to play at a temporary venue while work is carried out. Toronto and Pennsylvania State University are reportedly being considered as locations for temporary venues.
In other news, the Bills have become the latest NFL team to detail plans to open at full capacity when the new season begins in September.
The Bills confirmed that both vaccinated and unvaccinated fans will be able to attend games, although masks will still be required for unvaccinated supporters in line with CDC guidelines. It is widely expected that all NFL venues will be able to operate at full capacity next season as COVID-19 infection rates drop and the vaccination roll-out continues in the US.
The Bills’ home was rebranded as Highmark Stadium back in March through a deal with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. The Bills had been without a stadium sponsor since last summer, when New Era Company opted to end its partnership with the team three years early.