‘If their desire is Orchard Park, it’s Orchard Park’ Gov. Hochul says Bills hold key to stadium future
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/WGRZ) — Just where will the Buffalo Bills set up to play next? New York Gov. Hochul Monday said it’s ultimately up to the team, though the state is ready to help.
Speaking to reporters in Warsaw, Wyoming County, Hochul said NY would accommodate either a location near downtown Buffalo, or a short trip across the parking lot from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.
"If their desire is Orchard Park, it’s Orchard Park," Hochul said. "We’ve never said otherwise. And we’ve had many conversations, I’ve also offered timelines to them, whatever works best for them. I can get this done by the end of this year. I can get this done. We can work out the numbers. We’re having good conversations, or I also have until the end of March because it is a budgetary item. So, I also have a larger window if we need more time. So it’s not a hard deadline. But my desire is, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan. Let’s lock this down. Let’s get it done."
As we’ve previously reported on, a study found that it will cost $862 million to renovate Highmark Stadium. A Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE) spokesperson previously said it would cost about $1 billion to renovate Highmark Stadium, and that PSE did not see that as an option.
It found that it will cost $1.35 billion to build a new stadium in Orchard Park, but if that new stadium were built in Downtown Buffalo, it would cost $350 million more, and adding a roof on the stadium downtown would add on an extra $300 million.
The study encourages New York State, Erie County and the Buffalo Bills to proceed with building a new stadium over renovating the current one, but it stops short of encouraging them to pick a particular location.
The Bills’ lease on Highmark Stadium is up in July of 2023. Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula have made it clear that they will seek taxpayer funding to help pay for part of the cost of a new stadium.
"The Pegulas are very wealthy, but they contribute a lot to the city of Buffalo, and to the state," said Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D, 138). "I’m generally supportive of public private partnerships when it comes to developing and improving the economy so that’s how I’m going to look at it when I’m faced with it come budget time."
Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown told WGRZ he still feels the stadium should be in Orchard Park.
Ron Raccuia of Pegula Sports & Entertainment told us, "We appreciate the Governor’s comments this morning. There’s a lot of work to be done and we continue those efforts."