Exterior photo of Buffalo Bills football stadium with 'New York' icon and state outline in upper left corner

A massive NFL construction endeavor that’s been in the works for years now is finally nearing its kick-off — but still faces continuous delays. The Buffalo Bills plan to build a brand-new stadium for the 2026 season, with construction set to begin in spring 2023.

But the plans haven’t been simple, and they’ve required two significant deadline extensions to get the ball rolling. As of the time of reporting, the deadline necessary to reach the $1.4 billion funding deal between the team, the State of New York, and Erie County has been delayed again to “around December.”

Community advocates have been collaborating with the previously named parties to reach important decisions regarding the distribution and types of community benefits created by the project: A structure largely funded by taxpayers, the new stadium has a lot of bases to cover upon its completion.

Taxpayers want to know that they’re benefitting — and how the surrounding areas of Buffalo will benefit from the new venue.

Several factors have prolonged the final plan; officials stress the importance of ‘getting it right’

A Community Benefits Agreement for the Bills Stadium project was intended to be signed and locked in by September 1 of this year, but drafting a plan that aids all parties proved to be an obstacle in and of itself. 

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, the Partnership for the Public Good’s executive director, contributed to this debate. by

“One thing we’re really grappling with is whether this is a community benefits agreement at all,” Ó Súilleabháin said. “We would say, no, and our partners would say, no, because at this point, it is very clear that despite calls to open the process to community representation, the only actors at the table are the state, county, and Bills corporation.”

But a compromise might be one of the most difficult conclusions to reach. 

Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County Executive, stated that “the construction coordination agreement, in some ways, is the most complicated agreement of all because it determines how the money is going to be spent.”

The potential environmental impact of the new stadium plays a huge part in the deal negotiations. And in addition to the Community Benefits Agreement, a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) is being conducted to ensure all environmental factors of the project have been touched upon and researched in full.

According to HUD Exchange, environmental reviews are vital because they inspect a project and its “potential environmental impacts to determine whether it meets federal, state, and local environmental standards.”

It’s important for contractors to understand the importance of such quality reviews, as they provide information about the location of a project. Knowing the energy, air quality, sanitation services, natural resources, and noise levels of an area can have a huge impact on the construction of the structure itself.

Learn more Environmental Regulations in Construction: What Contractors Need to Know

“I do know that it will be much more environmentally friendly, in many aspects, than the current facility and the complex is right now,” Poloncarz said.

County officials have been seeking ways to move the process forward and get construction underway. 

Erie County Legislature Minority Leader Joe Lorigo expressed that he wants “to believe that a deal is going to get done.”

“It’s too important not to get done but at this point if they keep delaying, delaying, delaying without any real information being given to the Legislature or to the public at all, one starts to wonder what’s happening,” Loringo said.

A public hearing on October 27 at the Orchard Park Community Activity Center encouraged members of the community to come forward and voice their opinions regarding the changes. Some participants alluded to problems within the Bills team itself, while others stressed the possibilities of the venue’s environmental effects on the area’s ecosystem.

The announcement of the hearing was part of a webpage release with new information regarding the new Bills stadium. Among the hearing details linked to the Technical Addendum and other project preparations and images depicting possible plans for the venue.

Redeveloped sports venues can be a win-win for local communities and contractors if done right

Even though the progress of the new stadium has been slow, it’s clear that government officials, community representatives, and the Buffalo Bills franchise have been investing time into negotiating optimal benefits for communities, and preparing for minimal negative environmental impact.

Several other sports teams have prioritized community well-being and prosperity in recent years, proving the practice to be beneficial. If done right, the new Buffalo Bills venue could potentially join the others in their success.