Bills to receive a new stadium in Orchard Park, taxpayers expected to contribute for the total cost of $1.4 billion
BUFFALO, N.Y, (April 1, 2022) - The Buffalo Bills announced terms of a deal with the NFL that will keep the team playing in western New York for the foreseeable future. On Monday, March 28, NFL owners unanimously approved the team's proposal for a new stadium in Orchard Park, New York, according to ESPN's Alaina Getzenberg.
The deal said the new stadium deal would have a 30-year lease that is set to begin in the 2026 season.
The stadium will have 60,000 seats and will sit across the street from the current Highmark Stadium.
The NFL and Bills will contribute $550 million, including a $200 million loan that owners approved on March 25. New York state will contribute $600 million and Erie County will provide $250 million. The team will also receive $850 million from state public funding, according to the office of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Even though both the NFL and Hochul's office approved the deal, state representative Tom Suozzi criticized the weight it forces on taxpayers
"I don’t recall reaching any f*cking deal to give the 8th richest NFL owners $850 million of taxpayer $$," Suozzi Tweeted.
Suozzi, who is currently challenging Hochul for the Democratic nomination, said in an interview with auburnpub's Robert Harding it's unfair for the public to pay that amount.
"You can't ram through a billion-dollar taxpayer subsidy in four days," Suozzi said. "It's just not right."
Suozzi isn't the only one that agrees about this. Members of Seneca Nation expressed anger towards Hochul's plan to use $564.8 million of casino revenues for part of the funding.
“It will be a monument to Albany’s vindictive desire to punish the Seneca people,” said Matthew Pagels, president of the Seneca Nation.
Hochul previously said in an interview with the Buffalo News saying the Seneca Nation agreed to the state on Monday, five years into a legal battle with it. Not all the money will stay in state accounts, but rather, be sent to the cities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca as their shares of casino revenues. The Senecas stopped sharing with the state and local governments in 2017.
"My view is that this money was all generated in Western New York," said Hochul. "I would directly allocate that money to go to the state's $600 million share for the stadium."
Hochul then said the stadium' construction will create 10,000 union jobs with the commitment recouped by the team and the donation will provide relief for taxpayers.
"The direct hit to taxpayers is significantly less," said Hochul.
However, even members of the Bills mafia said the new stadium costs will cause problems for upstate New York taxpayers.
"I'm disheartened, but not surprised, to see NY throwing an incredible amount of taxpayer money at a stadium for a franchise owned by billionaires," says David Ditch, a longtime Bills fan and transportation policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Upstate N.Y. will always struggle to compete with less-frigid locales, but it doesn't stand a chance when both the weather and business conditions are so much better in other states."
Matt Davidson, who is chairing Business Backs Buffalo Football, said the deal works because it ensures the team will stay in Buffalo for the long haul.
"I would argue that no NFL team is more important to this community than the Bills are to western New York and upstate New York," Davidson said to the Buffalo News. " It seems like it's all coming together."
Mark Poloncarz, executive of Erie County, said the Bills staying in Buffalo will be good for fans past, present and future.
"This ensures the Buffalo Bills will be the Buffalo Bills through at least my lifetime and people who haven't been born yet will be able to enjoy the Bills," Poloncarz said. "We're keeping the team in town when other places lost their teams."
The deal still has yet to be secured and it could take months if certain environmental reviews, preconstruction design and engineering work get done, according to the Buffalo News.
Nellie Drew said even though taxpayers will have a lot on their hands regarding the stadium costs, they should feel grateful that rumors about the team relocating might finally be over.
"Certainly it's a lot of money, but I think relative to marketplace and what we've seen elsewhere, it's a pretty fair deal," said Drew, a Sports Law professor at the University at Buffalo. "The big piece for Bills fans across Western New York is that it is being described as an ironclad, non-relocation agreement. And that's huge."