Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL American football league, has reiterated his desire for the Buffalo Bills to build a new stadium to ensure the team’s future in the city.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the Bills had decided to build a new stadium for $1.4bn (£1.02bn/€1.2bn) across the road from its existing home, Highmark Stadium.
The Associated Press news agency, citing a person with direct knowledge of the discussions, said the Bills decided to go down the new stadium route after concluding that a renovation of Highmark Stadium was “simply not an option”.
Last week, it emerged that Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the Bills, were prepared to contribute towards the cost of the stadium, with speculation that they were looking for taxpayers to foot the bill said to be wide of the mark.
The Bills’ current lease at Highmark Stadium will expire in July 2023, and the franchise opened talks with state and county officials on the team’s future stadium two months ago.
The Bills have played at Highmark Stadium since 1973 and in February 2020 the team chose not to use an early opt-out clause to terminate its lease agreement, ensuring its immediate future in Buffalo. Highmark Stadium has a capacity of 71,000 and is owned by Erie County.
Goodell has previously suggested that the Bills need a new stadium in order to remain competitive and he has now reiterated this view.
“You’ve got to think long-term here,” Goodell said, according to ESPN. “This has been going on for decades, and it’s time to get a new stadium done so that we can make sure the Bills are here and successful for many, many decades going forward.
“We’re focused on keeping the Bills (in Buffalo) in a new stadium in a public, private partnership. That’s what this is all about and that’s where we’re focusing.”
The state and county in 2013 committed $227m towards Highmark Stadium renovations and annual capital and game-day expenses. Further repairs are needed, which in 2014 were projected at $540m, a figure that will be significantly higher in today’s prices.
The Pegulas acquired the Bills in 2014 for a then-record $1.4bn.