Bills agree deal for new $1.4bn stadium

The Buffalo Bills NFL team has reached an agreement with New York State and Erie County to build a new $1.4bn (£1.07bn/€1.27bn) stadium in Orchard Park.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has secured a 30-year commitment for the Bills to remain in Buffalo. New York State will commit $600m towards the new stadium project, with Erie County to provide $250m.

The NFL and the Bills will provide the remaining $550m needed to build the new stadium, which could be finished as early as 2026. Governor Hochul said the economic and tax impacts generated from the Bills will support more than 100% of the public share of the new stadium cost.

The 30-year agreement details the construction of a new stadium with a minimum of 60,000 seats. The Bills will begin work on designing the new stadium immediately, with all parties to also begin negotiations on extending the team’s lease at Highmark Stadium, which expires in 2023.

It is estimated that the project will create around 10,000 construction jobs. Erie County will transfer ownership of Highmark Stadium and the adjoining complex to New York State, which will also own the new stadium and lease it to the Bills.

The share of the public financing is reduced from previous stadium deals. The construction of Highmark Stadium in 1973 was 100% publicly financed, as was the 1988 renovation and training facility construction. A renovation of Highmark Stadium in 2013 was also 73% publicly financed.

Hochul said: “I went into these negotiations trying to answer three questions – how long can we keep the Bills in Buffalo, how can we make sure this project benefits the hard-working men and women of Western New York and how can we get the best deal for taxpayers?

“I’m pleased that after months of negotiations, we’ve come out with the best answers possible – the Bills will stay in Buffalo for another 30 years, the project will create 10,000 union jobs and New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the economic activity the team generates.”

Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Bills, added: “We took another step today to solidify our collective goal of constructing a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. We are grateful for the time, efforts and unwavering commitment made by Governor Hochul and her team throughout this process.

“While there are a few more yards to go before we cross the goal line, we feel our public-private partnership between New York State, Erie County led by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and the National Football League will get us there.”

Ron Raccuia, executive vice-president at Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said the Bills’ new stadium will maintain the “intimacy, great sight lines and amazing home-field advantage” the team currently has at Highmark Stadium.

Raccuia also confirmed that the team has hired Legends to work as its project manager and sales and marketing agent to sell assets of the new stadium. Populous has also been hired as the architect of record, while a construction manager is being finalised.

Raccuia said: “Most every new stadium that’s been built, not just in football, but throughout all of sports has had reduced capacity. The reason for reduced capacity is to create a better in-venue experience. Bigger seats, larger concourses, more intimacy, as we discussed. All those things are critical for a new stadium and to do that, capacity does go down.

“The amenities that our fans have told us that they would like are more temperature-controlled spaces, more variety on food and beverage, more gathering spaces where they can congregate together. All of that translates to a bigger facility and a lower capacity in the number of seats. In terms of the exact breakdown of seating, we’re still working through that process.”

Raccuia said that it would be a “few more months” before full-scale renderings of the new stadium are released. The Bills hope to begin work on the stadium in the spring of 2023.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has repeatedly said that the Bills need a new stadium to remain competitive, added: “We are pleased with the tremendous progress that has been made on a plan that will provide Bills fans the world-class facility they deserve in western New York. We appreciate the extraordinary leadership and partnership of Governor Hochul, Senator Schumer, and Erie County Executive Poloncarz.

“We will continue to work closely with them and the Pegulas to make this exciting vision a reality. The Pegulas have continued to demonstrate their commitment to Buffalo, a market that has supported the NFL for generations. This new stadium will further provide the foundation to help the Bills remain competitive in western New York for decades to come.”

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