The Buffalo Bills are targeting a new stadium with a seating capacity of around 60,000, some 12,000 less than the NFL American football franchise’s current home, according to the Associated Press.
The news agency, citing a person with direct knowledge of documents presented to state and county officials, said the new $1.4bn (£1.02bn/€1.18bn) project includes a timeline with a completion date set for no later than 2027, based on how quickly a deal can be struck.
The team’s current lease at Highmark Stadium expires in July 2023 and would be extended until the new venue is opened, should the project be given the green light by the state of New York and Erie County.
Earlier in August, the AP reported that the Bills had decided to build a new stadium for $1.4bn across the road from its existing home. The news agency, citing a person with direct knowledge of the discussions, said the Bills decided to go down the new stadium route having come to the conclusion that renovation of Highmark Stadium (pictured) was “simply not an option”.
The Bills in June were said to be exploring options for a new stadium, having played at Highmark Stadium since 1973. In February 2020, the team chose not to use an early opt-out clause to terminate its lease agreement for the 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, reiterating this stance last month, and the team has been working with strategic management consulting firm CAA Icon to assess the potential for a new venue.
It has also been confirmed in recent weeks that Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the Bills, are prepared to contribute towards the cost of a proposed new stadium. Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) senior vice-president Ron Raccuia said speculation that the Pegulas were looking for taxpayers to foot the bill for the development was wide of the mark.
The AP reported yesterday (Tuesday) that the latest proposals for the new stadium would not include a roof, but it would be designed so that a majority of the seats would be protected from the worst of the Buffalo weather. An increased price tag of $1.6bn was also said to have been considered for the project before settling on the $1.4bn budget.
Talks will now focus on how costs will be split between the team and taxpayers, with the state and county expected to be asked to cover more than 50% of the project. The New York Giants and Jets’ MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010 at a cost of $1.6bn, was entirely privately funded.
The AP notes that talks over the Bills stadium project have slowed in part due to New York’s change in governor, with Kathy Hochul taking over last week following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. Hochul is from Buffalo, and has already had contact with PSE officials.
Her office told the AP: “No one is more committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo than Gov. Kathy Hochul, a long time Buffalo Bills fan. Negotiations are ongoing, and her administration looks forward to sharing details with the public as soon as negotiations are completed.”