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Bills ‘very close’ to revealing new stadium designs

Ron Raccuia, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the Buffalo Bills, has revealed that the NFL team’s planned new stadium will include temperature-controlled spaces and a 360-degree enclosed canopy, with renderings set to be revealed soon.

In March, the Bills reached an agreement with New York State and Erie County to build a new $1.4bn (£1.16bn/€1.37bn) stadium in Orchard Park, with New York Governor Kathy Hochul securing a 30-year commitment for the team 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.

Populous has been hired as the architect of record for the stadium. Specific designs have not yet been made available, although a site plan detailing the initial concept was released by Erie County last month.

With a capacity of 60,000, the stadium will feature fewer seats than the Bills’ current home, the 71,000-capacity Highmark Stadium. Last month, Scott Radecic, a former Bills player who now serves as the team’s project executive for Populous, said that the venue would look to create a “unique” game-day experience for fans and Raccuia has now revealed further details of the project.

In an interview with local radio station WGR 550 yesterday (Monday), Raccuia said that the Bills are “very close” to releasing renderings of the proposed stadium, which the team hopes will provide one of the best experiences in the NFL.

The Bills have surveyed over 14,000 fans on what they would like to see at the stadium, with temperature-controlled spaces among the most popular requests. “Our fans wanted spaces that were conditioned,” Raccuia said.

“If you’re not in a club, you’re out in the elements from 9am to 5pm. That’s a long time without being able to go inside someplace and have conditioned spaces. We’ve designed (the stadium) to have conditioned space in every aspect: in the end zones, in the clubs, in the upper decks.”

Raccuia said the addition of a 360-degree enclosed canopy would reduce the impact of windy weather while maintaining the stadium’s open-air feel. The canopy would cover the overhead of many of the seats inside the stadium.

Other features will include an improved acoustic design, a “stacked” seating style to reduce the distance between fans and the pitch, wider walkways between seats, and revamped food and beverage spaces.

The Bills hope to move into the new stadium in time for the 2026 NFL season. The team’s lease at Highmark Stadium expires in 2023 and all parties are set to begin negotiations on extending this ahead of the stadium move.

Highmark Stadium opened in 1973. Following the opening of the new facility, the Bills’ current home is expected to be demolished and redeveloped as a large parking lot.

Image: Idibri/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size