The Buffalo Bills’ plans for a new 60,000-capacity stadium have cleared another hurdle after the directors of the Erie County Stadium Corporation voted to lease land for the NFL team to build the facility.
New York-based Spectrum News has reported that “light work” on the stadium could begin as early as April, with “big digging” slated to start in June. It is hoped the stadium will be open in time for the 2026 NFL season.
The Erie County Stadium Corporation yesterday (Wednesday) gave the green light for the Bills’ general project plan. As part of the proposal, New York State will acquire the stadium site from Erie County and lease it to the Bills for 30 years.
In March last year, the Bills reached an agreement with New York State and Erie County to build a new $1.4bn (£1.2bn/€1.3bn) 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 project, with Erie County to provide $250m. The NFL and the Bills will provide the remaining $550m needed to build the stadium. Following approval from the Erie County Stadium Corporation, the agreement will now be given to the Erie County legislature.
Last month, the Bills unveiled the latest renderings of the stadium, which will feature a 360-degree enclosed canopy and temperature-controlled spaces. The team, which has worked with architecture firm Populous on the design, released the first renderings of the stadium back in October.
The initial renderings provided wide-angle views of the interior and exterior of the stadium, and the latest images included a pitch-level view of the venue, a side view of its exterior, a zoomed-out aerial shot, and a close-up of one the facility entrances.
The new stadium will be smaller than the Bills’ current home, Highmark Stadium, which has a capacity of 71,000. When releasing the initial renderings, the Bills said the images are subject to change but represented the first “firm representation” of the direction the team would like to pursue during the design process.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the Bills’ ownership group, in November selected a consortium that will be responsible for the construction of the stadium. The joint venture of Gilbane Building Company and Turner Construction Company, in association with 34 Group, was chosen to provide construction management of the planned new stadium.
In December, the Bills secured important backing for the project from the NFL at the league’s winter meetings. NFL franchise owners signed off on two essential parts of the Bills’ stadium agreement – a year-to-year extension on the team’s lease at Highmark Stadium and a 30-year lease agreement for the new stadium.
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.