Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN/WGR 550) - All systems are a go for construction of a new state-of-the-art football stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park.
The final hurdle was cleared for construction to begin on a new stadium for the Bills on Thursday when the Erie County Legislature gave the unanimous final approval for the project agreement.
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This final vote ends a long process that began nearly two years ago when talks of a new stadium for the Bills began heating up in discussions with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and the Pegula family.
It was late last March when an agreement was struck between the Bills, New York State, Erie County and NFL to build a new football stadium across the street from Highmark Stadium by the 2026 season.
After several months of negotiations and extensions of deadlines to finalize the documents and agreements as part of the stadium deal, it was one month ago Thursday where Poloncarz announced the completion of the project documents needed for the deal. It was at that point where the Legislature took a 30-day period to review the documents before giving the final vote of approval.
The price tag for the new stadium in Orchard Park was originally set for $1.4 billion, but as Poloncarz disclosed last month, it has now increased to $1.54 billion.
The stadium deal includes a 30-year lease agreement for the Bills to remain in Buffalo, with Gov. Hochul advancing $600 million from the state for the stadium, and $250 million contributed from Erie County. The rest of the stadium cost, including any cost overruns, will be taken care of by the Bills and the Pegulas.
According to details in the project agreement, the target date for stadium construction to commence on the grounds for the new stadium along Abbott Road on Thursday, June 1. The review also detailed the target date of Sept. 22, 2026 for substantial completion of the new stadium, meaning the facility will be open to the public and able to host football games.
As for the final completion date of the project - tearing down of Highmark Stadium and clearing of the site - the hope is that will be complete by March 25, 2027.