Football fans and contractors rejoice: New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that state officials reached a deal with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills to build a $1.4 billion stadium in Buffalo suburb Orchard Park.
According to Governor Hochul, the project will create a staggering 10,000 construction jobs, with the project projected to be completed by 2026. The team additionally announced that it was hiring Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous to design the stadium, officially getting the development process off the ground.
The plan began in earnest in 2021 after team owners Kim and Terry Pegula made it clear that the team would not be renewing the lease of its 50-year-old current arena, with state officials preferring the construction of a new arena rather than extensive renovations.
“I went into these negotiations trying to answer three questions,” said Hochul. “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?”
Taxpayers will be footing the bill for $850 million of the project’s construction — an amount that Hochul noted was “far less than anyone had anticipated,” citing prior speculation that the amount could be over $1 billion. Additionally, the state of New York and Erie County will be contributing $600 million and $250 million, respectively, while the Pegulas are adding in at least $350 million alongside a $200 million loan directly from the NFL.
The plan also keeps funding avenues open for future construction needs, as well. The terms of the agreement note that New York State will be responsible for $6 million in capital improvements and $6.67 million in maintenance and repair per year — numbers which could, of course, rise with the inclusion of additional team funding.
Despite that, team officials aren’t looking to see the price skyrocket any more than it currently is projected to cost — prior exploration of other construction options had projected that alternate locations could possibly cost hundreds of millions more than this project’s $1.4 billion price tag.
“We’ve spent years studying the various locations and we know unequivocally that [construction in Orchard Park] is the most feasible, the most efficient, the most cost-effective location,” said Ron Raccuia, executive vice president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment.
Payment issues during stadium project will be handled through private payment rights
If there are future payment issues, though, they will likely fall in the private sector, a detail that Hochul noted was “quite significant” for the process.
According to Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, the Pegulas reportedly will be responsible for any escalation in construction costs throughout the process.
Be ready to tackle private projects in New York: New York Mechanics Liens – Everything You Need to Know + Free Forms
This will be important for contractors who may run into payment issues on the project as it gets underway, as cost overruns and payment disputes will be handled through private rights rather than public avenues such as Miller Act claims — and especially notable given that recent major stadium construction projects have actually been impacted by payment problems.
For example, an April 2021 lawsuit by Penhall Company sought to foreclose on its mechanics lien on Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium, home to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, after it alleged repeated nonpayment on the part of general contractor Turner AECOM-Hunt — a claim of $913,354.28 that was able to put the $5 billion stadium in a briefly precarious spot with just the power of one mechanics lien.
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