The Buffalo Bills announced Monday that they have secured a 30-year lease agreement with the state of New York and Erie County for a new $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park.
“We took another step today to solidify our collective goal of constructing a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park,” the team said in a statement. “We are grateful for the time, efforts and unwavering commitment made by Governor [Kathy] Hochul and her team throughout this process. While there are more hurdles to clear before getting to the finish 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.”
According to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe, via Pegula Sports EVP Ron Raccuia, the official groundbreaking for the new stadium, which will be open air and accommodate 62,000 people, will take place in the spring of 2023, with a goal completion date of 2026.
Taxpayers in the state and county will be asked to contribute $850 million in public cash to the stadium’s development. Hochul indicated in a press statement that the state of New York will commit $600 million in money, which will be included in the budget due on Friday. The project will be funded by $250 million from Erie County and $550 million from the NFL and the Buffalo Bills.
The sum is thought to be the highest public investment in an NFL facility to date. The proposed 60,000-plus-seat facility, which would be built across the street from the Bills’ present stadium, is supposed to assure the NFL team’s long-term existence in Buffalo.
Although the 60 percent tax burden is regarded significant, the agreed-upon funding is historically consistent. The state and county split around 73 percent of the cost of building, maintaining, and upgrading the Bills’ current stadium, now known as Highmark Stadium, which debuted in 1973.
Without going into detail, Hochul stated that the project will produce 10,000 union jobs, with the team’s investment being repaid through economic activity. The state originally estimated that the Bills, the only NFL team based in New York, would bring in $27 million in direct revenue per year.
The announcement came as the NFL’s owners meetings in Florida approved the Bills’ stadium proposal. Owners also agreed to give the Bills a $200 million G4 loan to help cover building costs.
The Bills’ owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, are required to at least match the loan under the G4 program’s guidelines.
The $200 million payment from the NFL was already built into the financial deal.
The Bills stadium commitment was not included in Hochul’s $216 billion budget proposal submitted in January, but it will be added this week. Hochul said she has a number of possibilities for raising the funds needed to complete the project.
The Bills’ current stadium was considered too costly to upgrade. In November, a state assessment estimated that renovation expenses would be $862 million.