AECOM assessing stadium sites for Bills

Empire State Development, the State of New York’s economic development division, has appointed AECOM to assess potential stadium locations for the Buffalo Bills, with the engineering firm reportedly taking a second look at a site on the edge of downtown.

The latest news comes with the Bills ownership group, the Pegula family, in August reported to have targeted 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 (£1.03bn/€1.21bn) project included a timeline with a completion date set for no later than 2027, based on how quickly a deal could 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 USA Today Network New York obtained AECOM’s latest contract with the State under the Freedom of Information Law. Under the contract, approved by Empire State Development on September 28, AECOM has agreed to weigh up the pros and cons of possible stadium locations, as well as the possibility of redeveloping Highmark Stadium.

The agreement with the State specifically calls on AECOM to reassess existing analysis of two sites: the current Orchard Park location and a site in South Park. It also calls for the company to study any additional sites the State may pin down, as well as those identified by AECOM, and shortlist two finalists.

USA Today Network New York said the area of the South Park neighbourhood in the southernmost part of Buffalo was previously identified by AECOM as a potential stadium location in a separate study commissioned by the State in 2014.

The Bills confirmed last month that they will look to sell personal seat licenses (PSLs) to raise funds for a new stadium. It had previously been confirmed that Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the Bills, were 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.

Talks on how costs will be split between the team and taxpayers will continue, with the state and county expected to be asked to cover more than 50% of the project. It was revealed that PSLs will be sold to fund the project.

Image: Alan Kotok/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size