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Governor Hochul, Buffalo Bills, and Erie County Announce New Buffalo Bills Football Stadium Project Hits Major Milestone with Start of Structural Steel Construction

January 29, 2024

Governor Kathy Hochul joined Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and other local officials today to announce that structural steel will begin going up on the Buffalo Bills’ new state-of-the-art stadium and celebrate the more than 800 laborers who contributed to this significant milestone. The new 60,000-seat facility, designed by the Bills in conjunction with Legends and the architectural firm Populous, is ready for the more visible large-scale structural steel work. The first steel beam hoisted into place will signify the impressive progress taking place at the site of the new Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

“This major construction milestone is a testament to the union labor and local workers who have made this project possible,” Governor Hochul said. “By creating thousands of jobs, this stadium has already proven to be an engine for regional economic development. I am proud of all that has been accomplished and am excited to witness future progress as we move closer to opening day in 2026.”

Bills Interim COO/SVP of Finance & Business Administration Josh Dziurlikowski said, “As workers hoist into place the first structural steel at the new Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, we want to recognize the many dedicated workers who have safely played an instrumental role in the initial phases of the project and those who will work on the project moving forward as we look ahead to our first game in the new stadium in 2026. The Buffalo Bills franchise is grateful for the steadfast leadership and commitment made by Governor Hochul and her team throughout this construction project. Our public-private partnership between New York State, Erie County, led by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and the National Football League will continue to be an economic driver throughout the region and the State of New York. Today's recognition of our indispensable workforce is another reminder of the hard work of many building a stadium that will be a great source of pride for Bills fans everywhere.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Today we are beginning a new chapter in the construction of this stadium, a chapter that will see the stadium taking shape and reaching for the sky thanks to the strength and sweat of local labor. While much has already happened at the site to prepare for today, from here Erie County residents and Bills Nation members worldwide will be able to see real, tangible proof that the new home of the Bills is under construction and building towards the season opener in 2026. It’s an exciting time and I thank our partners at NYS and the Bills for helping to guide this forward, and the men and women of labor for getting it done.”

Today’s milestone marks the completion of excavation seven months after breaking ground in June 2023. It was a monumental job, with trucks removing more than 500,000 cubic yards of stone and dirt; and laborers built a sheet piling wall and poured over 18,000 cubic yards of concrete to create the foundation.

Those driving by the Orchard Park construction site will now begin to see the building take shape above ground, with the installation of approximately 25,000 tons of steel, enough to build approximately three Eiffel Towers. Several massive cranes will be used to build the steel superstructure. Steel will be erected in tiers over the next 12-14 months.

Today’s worker appreciation event marks the start of steel construction and included the signing of a 20-foot steel beam by Governor Hochul and hundreds of workers who safely completed the first phase of construction. The beam will be utilized within the stadium structure.

Once the steel framework is in place for the new 1.35-million-square-foot stadium, the building will be clad, mechanical, plumbing and electrical will be installed, and each of the sections of the stadium will be built out. The number of workers on the job will grow to more than 1,500 daily from the 300 people today as the work progresses. Throughout the project a priority is placed on the employment of local workers and businesses. At this stage of the project more than 95 percent of the laborers on the project are local.

Program Director for Gilbane-Turner Joe Byrne said, “Collectively, more than 800 people have worked 138,000 hours to achieve this important project milestone. Their neighbors and friends in the community will now visibly be able to see the stadium take shape over the course of the next two years. We all look forward to celebrating further project milestones, opening day, and attending exciting games and events for decades to come in this world-class stadium.”

The stadium marks one of the largest economic development project in Western New York history with an estimated annual economic impact of $385 million and the creation of 10,000 union construction jobs, in accordance with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) agreed to by the Buffalo Building Trades Council. The Buffalo Bills franchise is a proven economic driver for the Buffalo region and the state as fans and spectators from across New York, the United States, and Canada patronize local businesses. The Bills currently generate $27 million annually in direct income, sales and use taxes for New York State, Erie County and Buffalo.

The new, open-air stadium is being built across from the existing Highmark Stadium, which was built in 1973, and includes several major improvements over the existing stadium facility. It will add weather mitigation features, including extensive radiant heating and a canopy that covers 65 percent of seats, to provide protection from inclement weather. The exterior of the stadium will also include enhanced gathering sites to be utilized by fans, spectators, and members of the surrounding community.

In 2022, Governor Hochul announced the historic public-private stadium agreement, which includes a $600 million investment by New York State that will be recouped through taxes and economic activity that the team generates. Under the agreement, Erie County will contribute $250 million, and the Bills and NFL will invest no less than $690 million for the stadium’s construction.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The Buffalo Bills fans are about to see their dream stadium rise up, one steel beam at a time. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s unparalleled leadership and the work of thousands of proud and dedicated union laborers, the building of the steel framework for the historic stadium is starting. We all look forward to enjoying an exciting new fan experience when the first game played in 2026.”

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Today marks progress - for this state-of-the-art stadium, for the economic impact it will generate across our region, and of course, for the team we circle the wagons with every Sunday. We're grateful to the many laborers whose hard work has brought us to this moment, and look forward to continued milestones as this project continues.”

State Senator Sean Ryan said, “This is an exciting milestone in one of the biggest construction projects in the history of Western New York. With structural steel being installed, the next phase of the project will bring thousands of good construction jobs to our region. Thank you to the hundreds of workers already working hard each day to make the new stadium a reality. Go Bills!”

State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan said, “Congratulations to everyone involved in reaching this milestone in the construction of the new Bills’ stadium. In addition to the thousands of jobs created by this project and the positive impact on the Western New York economy, the new stadium will be a source of great pride for the Bills, their fans and the entire community. I look forward to watching the project take shape and can’t wait for kickoff in 2026.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “As one of the largest and most expensive projects undertaken in WNY's history, I am grateful to the contractors and organized labor who have already worked onsite as well as those anticipated to. With the installation of this first steel beam, Bills Mafia looks forward to seeing construction progress in a real way until we're able to partake in the state-of-the-art fan experience. None of this would be possible without the leadership of Governor Hochul and the partnership of New York State, Erie County, the NFL, and the Buffalo Bills. Congratulations.”

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “The structural steel work now being put in place at the new stadium represents more than the foundational infrastructure needed to build the project, it represents the undying loyalty of Bills fans past, present and future who will look upon the facility and remember how strongly our community is united. The hundreds of dedicated workers onsite have done a tremendous job in reaching this milestone, and I know how much the community looks forward to seeing how their efforts take shape as we countdown to the first kickoff in our new, world-class stadium in 2026.”

Assemblymember Monica Wallace said, “Bills fans everywhere are thrilled to see progress on our new, state-of-the-art home stadium. Not only will this project enhance the game day experience with modern facilities and amenities, it is also supporting thousands of union construction jobs and generating billions in overall economic impact. I thank Governor Hochul for her leadership in prioritizing funding for this world-class stadium in the 2023 budget and look forward to its completion.”

Assemblymember Karen McMahon said, “This is a truly significant milestone in the construction of the new Buffalo Bills stadium as the structure begins to go vertical. It is a celebration of the commitment of Governor Hochul and New York State to keep the Bills in Buffalo and open a new home for the team with the most passionate fans in the National Football League. We are reminded of the importance of unionized labor as this, the largest construction project in Western New York, has created and will continue to create thousands of jobs. We are thankful for everyone's hard work, especially the leaders of the Bills, the State, and Erie County, as the construction moves forward. I know I am joined by my WNY colleagues and devoted Bills fans everywhere as we look forward to kicking off the inaugural season of the new stadium in 2026.”

Assemblymember Bill Conrad said, “This is a proud milestone for Buffalo, the Bills, and their unrivaled fanbase - but especially for the masterful union laborers who made it a reality. Indeed, this project represents our commitment to the skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen who live and work here, building the future of our community. The stadium will be an enduring testament to their talents.”

Erie County Stadium Corporation Chairman Robert Duffy said, “In collaboration with Governor Hochul and local officials, we are witnessing the realization of a monumental vision for Upstate New York. The commencement of structural steel construction marks a pivotal moment not just for the Buffalo Bills franchise but for the entire region's economic vitality. This stadium project will have a profound impact for generations to come.”

Buffalo Building Trades Council President Paul Brown said, “The stadium is a big win for the region and especially for the hardworking men and women of the Buffalo Building Trades Council who are honored to be part of the team making this exciting project a reality. Our union families will proudly tell their children and grandchildren that their skilled labor not only helped build a state-of-the-art stadium, but also helped build a stronger economy for the region.”


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