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Taxpayers To Front $850M For New $1.4B Buffalo Bills Stadium

The Buffalo Bills finally have a deal for a new stadium in Western New York.

The only National Football League team that plays homes games in New York State is set to get a new, $1.4B stadium in a deal announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the NFL and the owners of the Buffalo Bills, which are staying in Erie County.

The deal would see New York state taxpayers pay $600M for the 60,000-seat stadium, Hochul announced Monday, while Erie County has agreed to provide another $250M. The stadium in Orchard Park is set to be built with union labor and is expected to generate 10,000 construction jobs.

Hochul plans to advance the proposal in the state budget, for which the deadline is this week. Alongside the public funding, the team’s owners, Kim and Terry Pegula, will offer up $350M, while the NFL has agreed to loan the Pegulas $200M.

All told, the deal marks the most direct public funding ever devoted to building a professional sports stadium. Before that, Clark County in Nevada provided $750M bonds for the $2B construction of Allegiant Stadium, which it used to attract the Raiders from Oakland.

The NFL for years has pushed state and local officials to bankroll a new stadium for the Bills to replace Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, which is about to turn 50 years old.

"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?" Hochul said in a statement. "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 Bills generate some $27M each year for New York State, Erie County and Buffalo, Hochul’s office said, adding that those revenues would result in $1.6B over the 30-year lease period.

“I said, ‘I want it ironclad that if we’re going to make this commitment, that they have to stay,’” Hochul said, according to the Buffalo News, adding that the 30-year lease includes a penalty that would require the team “to pay back the entire cost of the stadium” if it were to move.

The New York Giants and New York Jets privately financed, with a $300M NFL loan, the construction of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where both teams have played for the last 12 years.