Orchard Park, N.Y. (WBEN/WGR 550) - It has been two weeks since the Erie County Legislature gave its final vote of approval for work to begin on the construction of a new state-of-the-art football stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park along Abbott Road.
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So far, a majority of the work on site of the future new home of the Bills has been preliminary with the concrete and asphalt of the old RV Lot and other parking being removed from the site. As of now, fencing work continues to be ongoing around the perimeter of the site, while excavation work is happening on the grounds surrounding the stadium layout.
While we're still a couple weeks away from major excavation work commencing across the street from Highmark Stadium along Abbott Road, Bills Executive Vice President and COO, Ron Raccuia says the early construction progress is coming along.
"So far the weather's cooperated. It's going," said Raccuia on Wednesday following an event at the stadium in Orchard Park. "It's a six day-a-week project until we finish. They're starting to move a lot of dirt, hopefully the first week of June they'll start digging. It's going well so far."
For any Bills fan that drives by the future site of the team's new stadium, there is really not much activity happening other than a few trucks and other construction equipment starting to move into place for the major work to begin. The excavation of the stadium site is also likely not to begin in Orchard Park until all the respective parties of this stadium deal are ready to ceremoniously put the shovels in the ground.
"Right now, we're focused in on the first week of June for the groundbreaking. Give us another couple of days to get everyone's schedules coordinated, but right now, should be the first week of June," Raccuia said.
When it comes to ensuring sufficient staffing on site for the preliminary work, as well as the major efforts to come shortly, Raccuia says everything is starting to ramp up for "all systems go" come June.
"It's early in that process, but right now, all signs look good," he said. "We're encouraged about it, we're encouraged about the participation. Events like this are bringing more companies to the table that we could use, changing how the bid packages are sent out so they're smaller and more conducive to local companies. That's going to help as well."
Meanwhile, the Bills continue to make arrangements for the new stadium once it opens for football action come the 2026 season.
Legends, a global premium experiences company that specializes in delivering holistic solutions for sports and entertainment organizations and venues, has officially been selected as the winning bid to become the official hospitality services provider for the team when the facility opens.
They are set to replace Buffalo-based Delaware North, who has been the official hospitality services provider of the Bills since 1992.
"It was a very exhaustive process," Raccuia said of the selection of Legends. "It was 6-9 months of interviews, meetings, due diligence. We took the same process that we used for choosing an architect and construction manager. We had four unbelievably qualified companies as part of the final foursome. We chose Legends, we think they'll do a great job. We think the enhanced food and beverage opportunity for our fans, they're really going to enjoy that."
Legends has a very respected reputation in the NFL with other partnerships with teams like the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers at SoFi Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium, and now the Bills at their future home come 2026. The company is also a joint venture of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball.
The Bills have already been working with Legends for a couple of years after the company was picked to lead planning, project management, sales and partnership for the new $1.54 billion stadium.
As for what Legends is expected to provide for the new Bills stadium once it opens, Raccuia says it's a bit too early to exactly point out those details.
"We literally made the decision very, very recently. We're in those phases right now," he said. "It's also part of the construction process of building out the food and beverage opportunities at the stadium."
With Legends being a Dallas-based company and such an emphasis being placed on local entities working with the Bills and the new stadium to come, it may have been a difficult decision to move on from Delaware North since it is based in Buffalo and has had longstanding ties with the team. However, Raccuia doesn't view the turn to Legends for hospitality as going out-of-state for business.
"The workers are going to be Western New York workers, it's the same workforce. We saw that happen when our merchandise switched over, they actually hired all of the original employees, plus new employees," Raccuia said. "We believe the workforce is going to expand, and we don't look at it as an out-of-state company."
In the meantime, Delaware North will remain on with the Bills for the final three years the team will play at Highmark Stadium. It will not be until the team has moved into their new stadium that Legends will take over.
"Delaware North has been a great partner, not just with us and the [Buffalo] Sabres, but in this community. These are difficult decisions," Raccuia said. "They will be a partner of ours for the next three years here, they have a long-term contract at KeyBank Center. I have the utmost confidence in them and our relationship."
While Raccuia is not exactly sure when Delaware North's lease expires with the Sabres, he knows the company has multiple years left on that agreement to remain at KeyBank Center.