The Buffalo Bills, New York State and Erie County have agreed to extend the exclusivity period for a new stadium for the NFL team until 30 days after the completion of an environmental impact study surrounding the project.
In March, the Bills reached an agreement with New York State and Erie County to build a new $1.4bn (£1.23bn/€1.43bn) stadium in Orchard Park, with New York Governor Kathy Hochul securing a 30-year commitment from the team to remain in Buffalo.
New York State will commit $600m towards the 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.
The latest announcement marks the second time in the past six weeks that the deadline for a decision on the stadium has been moved. The environmental review process is not expected to be completed until early December.
The previous deadline had been due yesterday (Sunday) but the delay was announced on Friday. The original deadline was September 1 but this was pushed back 45 days.
A joint statement from Stephen Gawlik, senior counsel for Empire State Development; Jeremy Toth, county attorney for Erie County; and Ron Raccuia, executive vice-president/chief operating officer for the Bills, read: “New York State, Erie County and the Buffalo Bills have made considerable progress and are actively negotiating the final agreements and contracts.
“As the environmental review process moves forward, we will continue to work towards finalising all agreements and look forward to breaking ground on a new stadium next year.”
In August, Raccuia revealed that the Bills’ new stadium will include temperature-controlled spaces and a 360-degree enclosed canopy. Raccuia also said at the time that the team was “very close” to releasing renderings, but so far no images have been revealed.
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 in July.
With a capacity of 60,000, the stadium will feature fewer seats than the Bills’ current home, the 71,000-capacity Highmark Stadium. 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.