The Buffalo Bills, of American football’s NFL, have reached an agreement with the state of New York and Erie County on a 30-year lease for a new $1.4-billion stadium in the town of Orchard Park.
The deal will see the Bills commit $550 million to the project, with state and county taxpayers to input $850 million – $600 million from New York state and $250 million from Erie County.
The public commitment is considered to be the largest ever for an NFL facility but is said to fall in line with historical commitments in relative terms.
It is expected to be recouped through the economic activity generated by the construction of the new stadium, which is expected to create 10,000 union jobs and the facility’s future operations.
In addition, it has previously been estimated that the Bills generate $27 million in direct annual income for the state.
The stadium proposal has also been approved by a meeting of NFL team owners, who gave the go-ahead for a $200-million loan for the Bills to go toward construction costs (which has been factored into the team’s commitment).
The Bills’ existing Highmark Stadium facility was deemed too expensive to renovate, with a study having put the cost at $862 million.
The new 62,000-seat stadium will be built across the road from the Highmark Stadium, with groundbreaking expected for an early 2023 date and the facility expected to open in 2026.
A statement from the Buffalo Bills read: “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 [of New York Kathy] Hochul and her team throughout this process.
“While there are more hurdles to clear before getting to the finish 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.”
Hochul added: “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? I’m pleased that after months of negotiations, we’ve come out with the best answers possible.”
Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars have committed to continue playing a ‘home’ game at Wembley Stadium in London, UK, every season until 2024 after it too was approved by a vote at the NFL’s annual meeting.
The Jaguars have played in London every year since 2013 except for in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Seven of those matches, between 2013 and 2019, were at Wembley, with the 2021 game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Shahid Khan, who owns the Jaguars along with London-based soccer club Fulham, said: “It’s a great pleasure to be able to announce that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing one home game per season at Wembley for three further seasons.
“It’s hard to believe it will have been three years since our last game at Wembley. But that changes this autumn, and we look forward to coming back to our London home.
“We have built a great fanbase already in the UK and I look forward to that increasing as we reaffirm our commitment to playing one home game per season in the UK for the long term, as was always the ambition when we first played in 2013.”
The UK has hosted 30 regular season fixtures since 2007 as part of the NFL’s International Series, with it having been confirmed in February that the Green Bay Packers will also play in London this year.
Munich and Frankfurt were also confirmed in February as the hosts for what will be the first-ever quartet of NFL games to take place in Germany.
Elsewhere in the NFL, Detroit has been named as the host city for the 2024 Draft.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: “The draft has become a prominent offseason event across the country, and we are excited to work with [NFL team the Detroit] Lions and their partners to bring the 2024 NFL Draft to the Motor City.
“With the help of Visit Detroit, the Detroit Sports Commission, and the City of Detroit the Lions’ passionate fan base and all visitors will be treated to an incredible three-day experience.”
The 2022 NFL Draft is due to take place in Las Vegas and the 2023 Draft in Kansas City.