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Construction Begins On New $1.5B Open-Air Stadium for NFL's Buffalo Bills

Wed May 10, 2023 - Northeast Edition #11
The Associated Press & Spectrum News


The new 60,000-seat stadium is being built in a former parking lot directly across the street from Highmark Stadium, which has served as the Bills’ home since 1973 when it was named Rich Stadium.  (Buffalo Bills rendering)
The new 60,000-seat stadium is being built in a former parking lot directly across the street from Highmark Stadium, which has served as the Bills’ home since 1973 when it was named Rich Stadium. (Buffalo Bills rendering)

Crews were spotted working on-site on the morning of May 9 in Orchard Park, N.Y., and heavy equipment has begun moving as construction is currently under way on the new Buffalo Bills stadium, Spectrum News reported.

The $1.5 billion project is one of the largest construction projects in state history.

This comes after the stadium's plans passed the final hurdle earlier in May, getting the green light in a unanimous vote from the Erie County Legislature.

Spectrum News also noted that the structure's funding is a mix of public and private money, but any cost overruns will be picked up by the team in full.

The National Football League, through its G4 loan program, and the Bills agreed to commit $550 million in financing, with team owners Terry and Kim Pegula's share coming in at $350 million. Much of their commitment will come from the revenue the team makes following the introduction of seat licenses for season ticket holders.

The Bills also are responsible for covering any construction over-runs beyond $1.4 billion. New York State is committing $600 million toward constructions costs as well as another $280 million to cover maintenance and operational costs over the 30-year period.

Additionally, the state is taking over sole control of the new stadium after previously sharing the lease with the county.

The deal includes a community benefits agreement in which the Bills will commit $3 million annually toward social, educational purposes and the economic health of the region. The NFL team also agreed to include a public transportation hub as well as sidewalks and pathways for fans and employees to access the facility.

The new 60,000-seat stadium is being built in a former parking lot directly across the street from Highmark Stadium, which has served as the Bills' home since 1973 when it was named Rich Stadium. The older facility was deemed too expensive to renovate after a state study in November 2021 pegged renovation costs at $862 million.

Plans call for the sparkling new NFL venue to open in time for the 2026 season.

Work Quickly Follows Intense Negotiations

In early April, the NFL team took a major step closer to breaking ground on the stadium by June 1 after formally submitting the final contractual agreements.

The details of the agreement were completed a little more than a year after the team, the county, and the state reached a tentative deal on the project that included a taxpayer commitment of $850 million — the largest public price tag ever for an NFL facility.

Notably, the 30-year lease features a non-relocation clause in which the Bills would have to pay back all public funding through the first 14 years of the deal. The payback amount drops over the final 16 years of the agreement.

The deal also extends the current stadium's lease to July 31, 2028.




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