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Buffalo Bills announce new deal for $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park

Matt Johnson

The Buffalo Bills announced a 30-year deal with the city on Monday, agreeing to a partnership for the groundbreaking of a new $1.4 billion stadium in Orchard Park.

Highmark Stadium, currently home for the Bills, broke ground in 1972 and opened on August 17, 1973. While it has twice undergone renovations, most recently in 2013, talks about constructing a new arena started over a year ago.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urged the city and team and threats of relocation to Austin, Texas emerged. Fearful of losing their beloved club, city and state officials worked with the franchise to formulate a plan for a new stadium.

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Speaking to reports Monday, Pegula Sports executive vice president Ron Raccuia announced the club reached a new lease agreement with the city. Both the Bills and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a joint public-private agreement to fund the new stadium.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2023 and the initial hope is that the new stadium will be completed before the 2026 NFL season.

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The Associated Press reported early Monday that public funds for the new stadium are expected to approach $850 million, accounting for more than 60% of the estimated stadium construction cost.

In Hochul’s press release, she announced there will be a $600 million investment made by the state of New York. The financial commitment would be matched by contributions from the NFL, Erie County and the Bills over the next 30 years.

The current $850 million price tag provided through public funds for construction will be split between the state ($600 million) and Erie County ($250 million). As part of the agreement, the NFL will be loaning $200 million to Bills’ owners Kim and Terry Pegula. While the loan needs certification from league owners, it is expected to be received.

According to The Buffalo News, $150 million of the loan from the league is forgivable and can be paid back through visiting clubs’ share of season ticket revenue generated by the Bills over the next 25 years.

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Funding from the Pegula family ($350 million) will be provided through the NFL’s loan and by the Pegula family selling approximately 50,000 seat licenses for season-ticket holders at the new stadium. The entire deal will likely receive official approval from all involved parties in the coming months.

  • Buffalo Bills stadium capacity: 62,000

Highmark Stadium is currently the fourth-oldest stadium in the NFL, behind Soldier Field, Lambeau Field and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Upon its expected completion in 2026, the Bills’ new field will be the third NFL stadium to open in the 2020s.