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What would it cost for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills?

Here’s a hint: A LOT OF MONEY!

The Buffalo Bills have spent the last 46 years playing their home football games in Orchard Park, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo.

Completed in time for the start of the 1973 season, the facility now known as New Era Field — previously it was called Rich Stadium and Ralph Wilson Stadium — is currently the sixth oldest stadium in the league.

Only the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles Rams, 1923), Soldier Field (Chicago Bears, 1924), Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers, 1957), the Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Raiders, 1966), and Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs, 1972) are older than New Era Field.

As much as fans love the ability to tailgate at New Era Field, and as affordable as it is to attend a Bills game (Buffalo ranks in the bottom five of the league with an average price of $68.18 for a season ticket), the rest of the league’s owners are clamoring for a new stadium to be built for the Bills.

So far, owners Kim and Terry Pegula have not been adamant about the need for a new stadium for the Bills.

How much would a new stadium cost? Taking a look across the league, new stadiums for the Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, and Atlanta Falcons are running in excess of $2 billion, which would conservatively put the price tag on a new Bills stadium at $1 billion, according to Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

“I think $1 billion is a low estimate for a new football stadium,” he told The Buffalo News Monday. ”You people are interviewing the Pegulas, and they’re saying they’re happy with where they are, and people don’t seem to be taking them at their face value.”

During a May interview with Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, owner Kim Pegula admitted she and her husband, Terry “don’t have a billion-and-a-half dollars sitting around. We used it to buy the team,” which seems to be a strong indicator that stadium renovations, and not a completely new venue, will be the direction the Pegulas take with any stadium talks.

Several weeks ago, Kim Pegula mentioned that they wouldn’t make any decisions on whether to pursue a new stadium, or simply apply another renovation to New Era Field, until after the state’s gubernatorial race occurs in November.

In an interview with Sandra Tan of The Buffalo News, Poloncarz made it quite clear that he doesn’t think building a billion-dollar stadium is a fiscally prudent move for Erie County.

“I know everybody says, ‘Oh, build a brand new football stadium. That would be great!’ But how are you going to pay for it?” Poloncarz told Tan. “We’re borrowing in 2019 about $45 million. That’s a lot for Erie County because we’ve been averaging between $35 and $30 million over the last four years in borrowing for general infrastructure – $45 million is a lot of money. Four hundred million dollars is a heck of a lot more money. Add another zero and you’re in the billions. And I don’t think people understand.”

With a capacity of 71,608, New Era Field ranks 11th in terms of largest capacity crowds. The Bills’ current lease at New Era Field runs through the 2022 season and ends in the summer of 2023. The team has the opportunity to opt out in 2020.