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Buffalo Bills secure deal for $1.4B stadium thanks to record $850M from taxpayers

New York taxpayers will commit an unprecedented $850 million in public money toward the construction of the Buffalo Bills’ brand-new $1.4 billion stadium, according to the terms of a deal between the NFL franchise’s billionaire owners and state officials released Monday. New York state will earmark $600 million toward the stadium’s construction in its annual budget proposal due Friday, while Erie County will cover $250 million, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office. The NFL and the Bills will cover the remaining $550 million. The agreement followed weeks of closed-door negotiations between Hochul, Erie County officials and Bills owner Terry and Kim Pegula – who had threatened to relocate the franchise unless the state provided public funding toward a new stadium. The governor’s office said the projected tax revenue and overall economic impact from the stadium would more than offset the public contribution – shaking off critics who argue the plan would amount to corporate welfare despite the Pegula family’s deep pockets. Hochul, a Buffalo native, argued the deal was a net positive for the state economy – with a 30-year commitment from the Bills to remain in New York. She added that the stadium project would create 10,000 union jobs in the state. “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. The Post reported earlier this month that state and county officials would pledge nearly $1 billion toward a new Bills stadium. For the project to proceed, state lawmakers will need to approve the stadium funding when they vote on the annual budget. If approved, an architectural firm called Populous will design the stadium, which would be open as soon as 2026. Critics had questioned the need to provide a massive giveaway for the stadium, given Pegula’s fracking fortune of more than $7 billion. And some felt the Pegulas’ relocation threat was a bluff given their close ties to Western New York. “Everyone in government folded like a cheap suit,” one veteran New York government lobbyist, who wasn’t involved in negotiations, told The Post earlier this month. “I am stunned.” The $850 million taxpayer bill is the largest on record for an NFL stadium, surpassing the $750 million in public funding that went toward the construction Allegiant Stadium, $1.97 billion home of the Las Vegas Raiders. The stadium will be located near the Bills’ current facility in Orchard Park and have a minimum of 60,000 seats. The Bills’ existing lease at decades-old Highmark Stadium was set to expire in 2023. The Pegula family said the deal marked “another step” toward a new Bills stadium in Orchard Park – though they warned the project still faces obstacles. “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,” the Pegulas said. Despite the steep price tag for taxpayers, Hochul’s office noted the stadium would be funded with about 61% in public financing, which is “well below other recent NFL stadium deals in comparable markets.”

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