New York – Public-Private Agreement to Keep Buffalo Bills

Governor Hochul Announces Joint Public-Private Agreement to Ensure the Buffalo Bills Remain in New York State

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz today announced an agreement between New York State, Erie County and the NFL’s Buffalo Bills franchise for a $1.4 billion new stadium in Orchard Park. Governor Hochul’s negotiations secured a 30-year commitment for the Bills to remain in Buffalo, and a combined $550 million from the NFL and Bills – approved today by the NFL owners.  The Governor will advance a $600 million proposal in the state budget, and Erie County will contribute $250 million.  The economic and tax impacts generated from the team will support more than 100 percent of the public share of the new stadium cost.

“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?” Governor 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.”

The Buffalo Bills franchise is a proven economic driver for the Buffalo region and the state.  The Bills generate $27 million annually in direct income, sales and use taxes for New York State, Erie County and Buffalo.  These revenues will grow and will cumulatively amount to more than $1.6 billion over the 30-year lease period.  Furthermore, fans who attend games from across New York, the U.S. and Canada and spend money locally that would not otherwise be spent in the region will result in an economic impact of more than $385 million annually.

Owners of the Buffalo Bills Terry and Kim Pegula said, “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.”

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The Buffalo Bills are ingrained in the heart and soul of every Western New Yorker.  It was essential that we entered into an agreement that ensured the team stayed in Buffalo, but was also a fair deal for the people of Erie County and New York.  That is exactly the agreement that has been reached: the Bills will play in Buffalo for the next 30 years; 10,000 building trades union jobs will work on the project; and the county will no longer contribute annual operating and capital expenses, thereby saving county taxpayers tens of millions through the life of the lease.  Thank you to Governor Kathy Hochul, as well as Terry and Kim Pegula, for working very hard these past months to reach an equitable agreement for all.”

The share of public financing is reduced from previous stadium deals. In 1973, the construction of Highmark Stadium was 100 percent publicly financed, as was the 1998 renovation and training facility construction.  73 percent of the 2013 renovation was publicly financed.  This proposal includes just 60.7 percent public financing, well below other recent NFL stadium deals in comparable markets.  The State share is 43 percent.

The 30-year agreement details the construction of a new stadium with a minimum of 60,000 seats in Orchard Park, Erie County to be designed and constructed by the Buffalo Bills.  The deal includes a commitment from the Bills to play at the new stadium for the next 30 years.  The Bills will begin design of the new stadium immediately, and all parties will begin negotiations on extending the team’s current lease for Highmark Stadium that expires in 2023.

The stadium project is projected to create approximately 10,000 construction jobs and will be constructed using union labor in accordance with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).  The Bills will negotiate a PLA with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Buffalo, New York and Vicinity, AFL-CIO, on behalf of its affiliated local unions.  The deal requires the Bills to agree to a Community Benefits Agreement, which is to be negotiated.

Erie County will transfer ownership of the current stadium and adjoining complex, which includes practice facilities and office space, to the State. The State will own the new stadium and adjoining complex, which will be leased to the Bills.  In the event the Bills default on the agreement, the State and County have the right to go to court to enforce non-relocation terms.  The new stadium can be used for civic purposes, such as, if necessary, vaccination delivery and election operations – as well as in emergencies.