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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Bills’ New Stadium Faces Early Cost Escalation, Could Reach $1.9B

  • Forthcoming stadium hit with rapid overruns
  • Issue could create financial pressure for small-market NFL team
Buffalo Bills

Just three months into construction, the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium development is already feeling the effects of inflation.

The Bills began construction in early May on the forthcoming facility in Orchard Park, New York, but the initial $1.4 billion cost estimate for the project soon rose to $1.54 billion, is now approaching $1.7 billion, and could ultimately reach $1.9 billion, according to multiple reports

The elevating costs — pegged primary to rising labor and materials costs — will be the team’s responsibility as part of its deal with the state of New York and Erie County, wherein the team controls the stadium design and construction in return for agreeing to shoulder all cost overruns.

This type of cost escalation isn’t new to NFL stadium projects. California’s privately funded SoFi Stadium saw an initial cost projection of $2.66 billion more than double to a total cost of $5.5 billion amid numerous obstacles, including a final development during the depths of the pandemic. 

But it’s more unusual to see such significant cost overruns so early in a facility construction process. The new Bills stadium — also set to be called Highmark Stadium —  isn’t projected to open until 2026. 

Bills COO John Roth told the Associated Press that “we don’t know enough yet to confirm” the cost overruns. If solidified, the situation could elevate the Bills’ initially planned $550 million contribution to the project beyond the $850 million in public money — and create a cash crunch for the franchise. 

Even though the NFL is reaching unprecedented revenue heights, the Bills still play in one of the league’s smallest markets and are funding their contribution through the NFL’s G4 loan program and personal seat licenses.

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