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Focusing on Bills stadium construction management team lineup

The selected firms have NFL Ties and local connections.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — With the new Bills stadium negotiations continuing among the state, Erie County, and the Bills organization, we learned earlier this week about which construction companies will be involved in the projected $1.4 billion project.

2 On Your Side took a closer look Friday at those firms, which obviously have some connections with the Bills' owners and plenty of experience.

The three firms making the cut as primary general contractors to build this planned stadium have lots of experience and connections among them, including some existing Western New York projects. 

First up, Gilbane Building Company, a worldwide firm dating back to 1949, with a resume of upstate projects most notably now including the Albright-Knox Museum expansion and renovation and the Northland Center.

They are teamed with Turner Construction of New York City, which, with Gilbane, has extensive stadium construction experience, including Lincoln Financial Field for the Eagles in Philadelphia and Levi's Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers. 

Then locally, the 34 Group operated by the Bills famed running back Thurman Thomas and his wife Patti.

As it turns out, the 34 Group and Gilbane both have offices in the Labatt House Building on Perry Street, which is part of the real estate portfolio of the Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

State and local politicians have stressed all along that with thousands of construction jobs involved, they want construction trades workers from the Western New York region to have the priority for hiring on the project. 

Local union leader Paul Brown says he is confident and comfortable with this triple team of contractors. You might say he feels they scored a touchdown these selections.

"34 group has already signed with the Building trades, and they're stellar," Brown said. "They have some good guys there. But Turner and Gilbane, they go out of their way above and beyond, making sure that they hire local workers, so that's what we want.

"Some other guys sometimes, you don't know what they're going to do. They come with the specialty work and all this stuff, and they want to hire people from all around. These guys are not like that. They know the talent that's here in Western New York, and they use it to the fullest."

And so from Albany, where the state legislature OK'd the original stadium agreement, 2 On Your Side sought further confirmation. 

We asked: "They're not strictly Western New York firms except for 34 Group. What can you do to make sure, can you exert influence to make sure that they're putting Western New Yorkers in there to do that work?"

State Senator Tim Kennedy responded: "They're working through a program right now to make sure that these are local jobs taking a priority."

We spoke briefly with a representative of Turner Construction. He says this management team will have much more to tell us about the stadium construction project in the coming weeks. That, again, even as the actual negotiations on the final details of the deal are still being worked out among the state, Erie County, and the Bills organization.    

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