New Highmark Stadium Update 04/16/24

Structural Ironwork Begins at Bills New Stadium Site

Structural ironwork is now underway in Orchard Park, New York, at the site of a new, NFL football stadium, being constructed for the Buffalo Bills.

Going up in one of the parking lots for the team's current home, Highmark Stadium (which sits directly across the street at 1 Bills Drive), this massive project is being referred to as "New Highmark Stadium".

Designed by Populous, with Legends serving as the project manager, the open-air stadium will boast a 62,000-seat capacity and total approximately 1.35 million square feet.

Unlike some professional sports stadiums in cold weather climates that are designed with either permanently closed or retractable roof systems, New Highmark Stadium will not have to worry about a heating bill. The roof will extend over many of the seats, but the field will be fully exposed to the elements. The Bills have a long history of playing in frigid weather and even in the snow on occasion. Despite Buffalo being one of the chilliest markets in the NFL, the team's ability to brave the extreme cold and lake effect snow every season has essentially become a home-field advantage. The same can be said for Bills Mafia, who consistently show up, pack the stands, and back their beloved franchise, no matter the temperature. In reality, an enclosed roof would never have been a popular decision with the team or with the fans because making the opponent feel at home is not how Buffalo operates.

New Highmark Stadium will feature state-of-the-art videoboards, scoreboards, sound systems, lighting, administrative and event staff offices, broadcast facilities, locker rooms, food service kitchens, and concession stands. It will also have ample parking, a public plaza, and a significant amount of landscaped areas surrounding the building.

The project also involves the construction of a 75,000-square-foot, ancillary building, and the complete demolition of the current stadium. Construction is being managed as a joint venture between Gilbane and Turner Construction Company, in association with general contractor, 34 Group. Rather fittingly, 34 Group has been founded and led by Thurman Thomas; a former 13-season, NFL running back and Buffalo Bill's Hall of Famer.

Set to cost around $1.54 billion, New Highmark will not come cheap. Funding for the project has originated from several sources, and will be secured as follows: The Bills and the NFL will supply $550 million, Erie County will fork over $250 million, and New York State will cough up $600 million. New York State will also own the venue, unlike with the current stadium, which is owned by the county.

While $1.54 billion is certainly a lot of coin, the New York Governor's Press Office states that the endeavor "marks the largest economic development project in Western New York history", and that it will have an estimated 30-year economic impact of $1.6 billion, as well as create 10,000 union construction jobs. Construction is still in the early stages right now, but the stadium is ultimately planned to debut for the 2026 season if all goes according to plan.

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