ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — While there have been preliminary work out with fencing and site preparation, the new Bills stadium project with the big dig for the foundation can really get underway now with the official groundbreaking on Monday morning.
The golden shovels and the white hard hats were used Monday morning to get this now $1.54 billion stadium project now officially underway.
There were all the inspirational words from Bills fans who happen to be politicians giving pre-construction instead of pre-game speeches.
Governor Kathy Hochul said, "We saw how important this was to this community. Not just the economic impact of over $385 million a year-an exclamation point on that but also the psyche of this community rises and falls with the fortunes of the Buffalo Bills. It's just part of our story - part of our identity."
And taxpayers must identify since $600 million came from the state and another $250 million from Erie County... It's a costly but necessary commitment to them for a deal that in some ways took decades to cement.in place, especially with a new 30-year lease agreement for the team.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "This day in some ways dates back more than ten years when we finalized the prior lease knowing that in all likelihood was going to be the final lease for that stadium that's behind my shoulder. It means a lot - there was not a given that this team was gonna stay."
"The project is one thing and it's gonna be fantastic and create tremendous memories and opportunities. But the Buffalo Bills are not going anywhere and that's what the stadium is really all about," said Bills COO Ron Raccuia.
The Governor added, "Getting it through the New York State Legislature which has a lot of people from parts of the state that are not Buffalo - it was hard but we got it done."
Also, there were references to the project labor agreement and up to ten thousand construction workers - mostly union. And then the Community Benefits Agreement. The Governor told the crowd, "It's not just sports related. It's about workforce development, it's about job training, it's about anti-violence initiatives so this is gonna have an impact way beyond what we're doing here today."