Bills set to close financing deal for new stadium

A funding agreement for a new Buffalo Bills stadium is set to be announced this month, with the NFL set to provide financial support for the $1.35bn (£1.03bn/€1.24bn) project.

Ron Raccuia, an executive vice-president at Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Bills, told The Buffalo News that the NFL’s G-4 loan programme is a “critical component” of the team’s stadium deal.

The Bills would be entitled to apply to the NFL for a loan to aid the construction of a new stadium, if the team’s owners commit at least $200m to the project themselves. Raccuia has previously said that the Bills would look to sell personal seat licenses to raise funds for the project.

The Buffalo News has reported that a funding agreement for the venue, which would be built across the street from the Bills’ current Highmark Stadium home, will be announced this month.

In November, a feasibility study considering future stadium options for the Bills recommended that the team pursue the construction of a new home venue rather than renovate Highmark Stadium.

The report, compiled by engineering and consulting firm AECOM on behalf of New York State authorities, said it made sense for the Bills and state and Erie County officials to pursue one of two sites already earmarked for the project.

AECOM found that renovating Highmark Stadium would cost approximately $862m, which would be substantially less than the construction of a new stadium. However, the report cited “a tipping point” when the cost of renovations exceeds 60% of building a new facility.

The Bills’ current lease to play at Highmark Stadium, which is located in Orchard Park, expires in July 2023. The Bills are reportedly seeking more than 60% in public funding towards the new 60,000-seat stadium.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has said that discussions regarding the funding of a new stadium are currently focusing on the “nuts and bolts”. Hochul is hopeful that an announcement can be made this month and is keen for the Bills to remain in the Buffalo region.

“There are issues to work through, but I feel very confident that they’ll be resolved in time to have conversations during the budget process,” Hochul said, according to the Associated Press. “As everyone knows, this is a very important priority to me and this community, but also the entire state.”

Highmark Stadium opened in 1973. It is hoped that any new stadium for the Bills could be completed in time for the 2026 season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has previously suggested that the Bills need a new stadium in order to remain competitive, reiterating this stance in August, and the team has been working with strategic management consulting firm CAA Icon to assess the potential for a new venue.

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