By JOHN WAWROW
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An agreement that would commit hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills is approaching completion, with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confident a deal will be struck before the end of the month.
Hochul on Friday said many of the issues have been resolved, with discussions now focusing on what she called “the nuts and bolts.” One outstanding issue she specifically mentioned was the length of the lease to ensure the franchise’s long-term presence in the Buffalo region.
“There are issues to work through, but I feel very confident that they’ll be resolved in time to have conversations during the budget process,” Hochul said. “As everyone knows, this is a very important priority to me and this community, but also the entire state.”
Hochul wouldn’t provide any details on what the taxpayer commitment would be for the new facility the state estimates will cost $1.354 billion to construct, except to say: “My priority is to keep the Buffalo Bills here, as well as ensure that we’re making smart investments.”
The expectation is the Bills are seeking more than 60% of funding to come from the public to build a proposed 60,000-plus seat stadium across the street from the team’s current facility in Orchard Park.
Negotiations between the Bills, the state and Erie County began last summer, with Hochul facing an end-of-the-month deadline to get an agreement in place to have the stadium commitment included on the state budget due in early April.
In saying she expected to meet that deadline, Hochul said there are numerous options at her disposal once the budget is formally submitted.
“We’ll be able to find the resources in the budget. There’s unrestricted money, there’s money for economic development, there’s money for infrastructure. So there are various sources,” she said. “We’ll be able to identify what is needed to ensure that the Buffalo Bills stay here in western New York.”
The Bills are seeking to replace their existing facility which opened in 1973 and has been deemed too expensive to renovate. A state study in November pegged renovation costs at $862 million.
If approved, the Bills project the new facility could be built in time for the start of the 2026 season.