While the NFL's Buffalo Bills were knocked out of the playoffs last weekend, the team is one step closer to building a new stadium after the directors of the Erie County Stadium Corporation unanimously approved plans for the new facility.
According to the local ABC affiliate, officials said the approval of the deal is a "significant step" toward a new stadium. The next step is a public hearing that will be held at 5 p.m. on February 2 at ECC South.
The Bills, Erie County and New York State announced back in March plans to build a $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park. That agreement secured a 30-year commitment to keep the Bill in Western New York.
The $1.4 billion price tag will be covered by a public-private partnership. The state will provide $600 million, the Bills will provide $550 million and the county will provide $250 million.
The new stadium will be completed across Abbott Road from the team's current home, Highmark Stadium. It will be a state-of-the-art open-air stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 60,000 seats and a maximum capacity of 63,000 seats.
Construction on the facility is expected to being in the spring of 2023 and be completed in time for the 2026 season.
The deal includes a community benefits agenda, which requires the following:
The agenda says the CBA will specifically:
- Set a 30% goal for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) and a 6% goal for Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (SDVOB) certified by the state or county for all retailers, vendors, and service companies used in stadium maintenance and operations.
- Set a 30% goal for food products used by concessionaire's be purchased from Erie County certified MWBE food service companies.
- Require the Bills to promote and give preference to food and beverage items for sale at the stadium that are produced and/or manufactured in New York State
- Require the Bills to apply prevailing wage programs for employees during construction and promote living wage standards in its employment practices for employees working at the stadium.
- Require the county and Bills to work in good faith to expand public transportation to the stadium and require a public transportation hub be implemented in the stadium complex design.
- Provide for mentoring/technical assistance/internship/educational opportunities by the Bills to:
- Promote the training of a diverse workforce from the various target groups during the construction, maintenance and operation of the Project.
- Provide for paid internships for local high school students with a 30% goal of such students residing in disadvantaged communities.
- Collaborate with local area high schools and colleges for opportunities for members of the Bills and/or the Bills organization to speak to classes of student groups regarding the business of sports and the opportunities that exist in the sporting industry with the aim of encouraging diversity and inclusion in professional sports front offices.
Other Benefits that are part of the CBA, according to the agenda:
- The Bills continued support for anti-violence and mental health initiatives through Bills-led anti-violence awareness and mental health campaigns, promoting local anti-violence campaigns and supporting local community organizations whose mission include anti-violence work and mental health work, respectively.
- The development, implementation and maintenance of a sustainability operations plan to address solid waste recycling as well as other efforts to reduce carbon emissions and the carbon footprint of the new stadium.
- The Bills commitment to work collaboratively with local artists to develop a community art program in connection with the new stadium and to make available personnel to participate in education lectures and classroom activities in area educational institutions such as ECC and BOCES.
- Create a Community Benefit Oversight Committee (CBOC) made up of representatives appointed by the county, ECSC and the Bills that will be tasked with monitoring, oversight and accountability with respect to the commitments made by the Bills contained in the CBA. The CBOC will identify priorities where the Bills can best direct their resource commitments which at minimum will be valued at $3 million per year.