Details of a new stadium and lease deal for the Buffalo Bills were announced Monday, ensuring the team remains in Buffalo for the next 30 years.
The Buffalo News reported the estimated cost of the stadium at $1.4 billion.
The NFL and the Bills will put a combined $550 million toward the project, which was approved Monday by NFL owners at their meeting in Florida. The governor will advance a $600 million proposal in the state budget, and Erie County will contribute $250 million. That total share of publicly financing adds up to 60.7 percent of the funding required to build the stadium, as reported by sports radio station WGR in Buffalo.
"My children's children, my grandchildren will be able to enjoy football as well as their children," New York governor Kathy Hochul said Monday. "This is a long-term prospect for us, and answers the anxiety that many Western New Yorkers have is, will the Bills leave us? For the next 30 years, they're going to call Western New York their home.
"Just comparing where we were in the past, when this stadium was originally built in 1973, 100 percent of that was financed by the public. Even the renovations in 1998, 100 percent financed by the public sector. And our financing back in 2013 when the renovations were made, that was 73 percent. We negotiated hard, we drove those numbers down, and now our state share is 43 percent and the public share overall is only 60.7 percent."
"Great day for Western New York, for the Bills, for the NFL," said Ron Raccula, executive vice president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. "We're very thankful for governor Hochul, county executive [Mark] Poloncarz. This is a great first step. We still have more work to do, but we're excited with what we've accomplished so far."
While an agreement is in place for a new Bills stadium, Raccuia says the State Legislature still has to approve the budget, and then the Erie County Legislature also has to go through their approval process.
The economic and tax impacts generated from the team will support more than 100 percent of the public share of the new stadium cost.
In addition, the project will create 10,000 union jobs, as well as generate $27 million in direct revenue to the state, that could result in their share of the funds paid off after 22 years of the 30-year agreement.
As reported by WGR, one significant difference with this deal for the Bills and the lease agreement going forward is a change in ownership of the stadium. No longer will Erie County be the owners of the property once the stadium is built and operational.
"The new stadium will not be owned by Erie County. It will be transferred, the land will be owned by New York State through the Erie County Stadium Corporation, and then leased to the Bills," Poloncarz said Monday. "The final lease, whatever it may be including for current facilities, will be from New York State to the Bills."
With this being the case, Poloncarz said the county will no longer contribute annual operating and capital expenses, thereby saving county taxpayers tens of millions of dollars through the life of the lease.
Raccula said he believes that construction will begin in earnest in April or May 2023. He confirmed Populous is the chosen architect, adding that renderings will be made available for the public as soon as the team has them in place.
According to WGR, Raccuia also confirmed the open-air, 60,000-62,000-seat stadium will be located across the street from the current stadium on Abbott Road. The Bills also plan to have 80 percent of seating in the stadium protected from the elements.
"I heard [head coach Sean McDermott] say today he wants it loud. Trust me, it will be loud. It will be intense, it will be intimate," Raccuia said. "It'll take a lot of the great features of Highmark [Stadium] right now, which is unbelievable sight lines, bring them over to the new stadium in a modern, state-of-the-art way."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is heralding the deal, stating, "This new stadium will further provide the foundation to help the Bills remain competitive in Western New York for decades to come."