Taxpayers face $850M tab for new Bills stadium

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — State and county taxpayers will be asked to commit $850 million in public funds toward construction of the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium, which has a state-projected price tag of $1.35 billion, a person familiar with the the plan told The Associated Press on Monday.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not yet been approved. The Athletic first reported the figure earlier in the day.

The dollar amount is considered to be the largest public commitment for an NFL facility, with the Bills and the league picking up the rest of cost.

The figure was revealed as the Bills prepared to present their stadium proposal at league owners meetings in Florida. Owners were scheduled to vote on the proposal as well as approve granting the Bills what’s called a $200 million G4 loan to go toward construction costs.

Under the G4 program rules, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula would be required to at least match the loan.

NFL approval would mark the first key step in a critical week for a project. The parties are closing in on reaching a formal agreement, with details of the plan remaining a closely guarded secret.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul faces a deadline to have an agreement in place in time to include the state’s share of funding in her budget, which by law must be approved on April 1. Hochul previously expressed confidence in reaching a deal with the Bills before the deadline. Even though she submitted a $216 billion budget in January without including a stadium commitment, Hochul said there are numerous options at her disposal to draw upon the necessary money to fund the project.

The NFL’s $200 million contribution was already factored in as part of the funding package for the proposed 60,000-plus seat facility to be built across the street from the Bills’ current stadium in Orchard Park.

Erie County is also a lease holder and must also approve the proposal.

The $850 million of taxpayer commitment would represent about 63% of the projected cost of construction. Though high, it is lower than the 73% the state and county have historically committed to the team for construction and capital costs since the Bills were established in 1960.

The Buffalo News previously reported the largest commitment of taxpayer funds for an NFL stadium involved the Las Vegas Raiders, with $750 million of public funds directed toward constructing the $1.97 billion Allegiant Stadium, which opened in 2020.

There have been, however, higher splits of public-private funds for NFL facilities, the newspaper found. Taxpayers covered 86% of the $720 million cost to build the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2008. The public commitment for the Cincinnati Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, which opened in 2000, covered $425 million of the $450 million construction costs.

The Bills are seeking to replace their existing facility, which opened in 1973 and was deemed too expensive to renovate. A state study in November pegged renovation costs at $862 million.

If approved, the Bills project the new facility could be built in time for the start of the 2026 season. The Bills’ existing lease with the state and county runs through July 2023.

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

US Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States numbering 54.2 million as of July 2014. Serving: Buffalo, Rochester, Fredonia, Niagara Falls, NY and Erie, PA. Outside our Market area: Visit our affiliate at: http://www.impremedia.com/

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