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Negotiations continue for new Bills stadium, despite missed deadline

Ralph Wilson Stadium

Negotiations over a funding package for a new Buffalo Bills (NFL) stadium continue, even though we’re past the December 31 deadline set by team owners Terry and Kim Pegula to finalize a deal.

That Dec. 31 deadline was somewhat arbitrary, of course; the real deadline is in March; the state budget is due April 1, and NFL owners are set to meet March 27-29. What really matters is that talks between local and state reps and the Pegula are making progress, per the Buffalo News:

“All parties continue to work together in a warm and constructive manner to get an agreement in place as soon as possible,” Jim Wilkinson, a spokesperson for the Bills’ parent company, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, told The Buffalo News.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at his weekly news briefing Tuesday that the parties have engaged in “significant discussions over the last two weeks” and that “some progress has been made,” but that a deal was not expected in the next few days.

“I think the idea is we’re going to get a deal done that’s right for all, that benefits the community, that ensures the Buffalo Bills are the Buffalo Bills,” Poloncarz said.

It doesn’t sound like the deal has undergone much in the way of changes when first proposed by the Bills ownership at the end of August. The proposed $1.4-billion facility would not featured a covered roof, but the design would shield fans somewhat from the elements. Highmark Stadium, the team’s current home, seats around 72,000. The new stadium would be built in a parking lot next to Highmark Stadium, which would eventually be torn down. Highmark Stadium opened in 1973 and has been upgraded several times, but the team and local officials decided the facility is at the end of its economic life. Improving fan conditions would mean the addition of a third deck and cost $540 million–money that could be better spent on a new facility. The public funding would approach a billion dollars.

If a deal is reached in the next few weeks, we could see a 2026 opening to the new facility.

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