WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Bills stadium project is on the agenda Monday morning at the NFL spring meeting in Florida.
The NFL owners have approved financing the loan and project plans for a new stadium in WNY.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz held a press conference shortly after the announcement was made to discuss the terms.
Poloncarz announced the new stadium will be built on the land across Abbott Road from the current stadium. The Erie County Stadium Corp. (ECSC), a newly formed arm of the state government, will lease the stadium to the Bills once the stadium is substantially constructed.
ECSC will contribute $600 million towards construction and Erie County will pay $250 million. Everything else will be covered by the Bills. Construction will create over 10,000 jobs.
County Won't Own New Stadium
"We are getting out of the football business," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, explaining that, unlike the current stadium, the new one will not be owned by the the county but instead by ECSC with whom the Bills will sign a 30 year lease.
The county's construction contribution reflects about 18% of the total cost of the new stadium.
According to the County Executive, the county will use $75 million from its current surplus and borrow the remaining $175 million to cover its share.
However, Poloncarz stressed "there will be no tax increase because of this deal."
Poloncarz noted that because the county won't own the new stadium, it will be off the hook for millions of dollars in annual operational and capital expenses.
"We're getting out of that. Erie County will no longer be providing that assistance," Poloncarz said.
According top Poloncarz fans attending Bills games and other events at the new stadium will be contributing toward annual upkeep costs through surcharges on ticketing, parking and concessions instead.
He also said that because the county would not own the new stadium, it will also save additional sums on insurance, and that even when it comes to the Erie County Sheriff's Department providing security at the new stadium, "the Bills are going to negotiate with us and reimburse us for the costs of the Erie county sheriff's office providing services."
"In every negotiation you don't get everything you want but I'm pretty happy with what we have for Erie County," he said.
"These are strong terms to ensure the team never moves. As I said, I feel very confident that once we negotiate and sign off on the other documents this team is going to be here for at least the rest of my lifetime," Poloncarz said.
Bills Gain Support from NFL for Financing
The Pegulas, along with representatives from Pegula Sports and Entertainment presented their plans prior to a vote by all 32 owners on league financing to help with construction.
Specifically, that would be the NFL's G4 loan program which can provide up to $200 million in funding toward the private portion of the project. $150 million of that is paid back through stadium revenue over time.
The Pegulas issued a statement shortly after the vote on the Bills Twitter page:
"We took another step today to solidify our collective goal of constructing a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. We are grateful for the time, efforts and unwavering commitment made by Governor Hochul and her team throughout this process. While there are a few more yards to go before we cross the goal line, we feel our public-private partnership between New York State, Erie County led by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and the National Football League will get us there."
The next significant step would be a formal announcement from New York State on what is expected to be the majority of the funding for what is estimated will cost upwards of $1.4 billion.
Taxpayers are expected to fund approximately $1 billion, although that figure has recently been called into question by both Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
"I went into these negotiations trying to answer three questions - how long can we keep the Bills in Buffalo, how can we make sure this project benefits the hard-working men and women of Western New York and how can we get the best deal for taxpayers?" Hochul said. "I'm pleased that after months of negotiations, we've come out with the best answers possible - the Bills will stay in Buffalo for another 30 years, the project will create 10,000 union jobs and New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the economic activity the team generates."
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.
Pending those approvals, Pegula Sports and Entertainment is proceeding with plans that would have the new stadium open for the 2026 season.
It will be built as an outdoor facility, directly across the street from Highmark Stadium.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott is obviously not directly involved in stadium discussions, and said he hasn't been consulted on specifics yet when meeting with reporters here in Palm Beach this morning.
"I'm looped in where I need to be looped in, but overall I'm staying in my lane and getting the team ready to win," McDermott said.
"As get closer, we'll be looped in on those things and asked about some specifics, but overall again... I know there's a lot of hard work that's going on a daily basis so I really appreciate that."
There of course has been debate during the process about location, and whether or not the stadium should be covered. McDermott did his best to stay down the middle on that point.
“Loud…. Loud… that’s my preference.”
Read the full signe agreement obtained by 2 On Your Side: