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New York State’s stadium report in line with Pegula Sports and Entertainment assessment

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills began releasing cost information on a new stadium this summer. Today, New York State released their full report as part of the process of building a new stadium.

The two different sides were very close together on the projected cost of the stadium; New York State projected a new stadium in Orchard Park will cost $1.354 billion while PSE said $1.4 billion and they both projected the cost of a downtown stadium would be at least $2.1 billion. With a roughly $862 million estimate on renovating the current stadium, all parties have moved on from renovating the building now called Highmark Stadium built in 1971.

The stadium cost does not include a roof, but about 80 percent of the seats would be protected from the elements by the suggested structure. New York State’s report estimated that a roof would add $300 million to the project or they could add a half-measure. If they spent an additional $109 million now, the design could eventually handle a roof.

“We are confident that the results of this analysis will be a valuable tool as the state, Erie County and the Buffalo Bills work together to make sure the team remains in the region in a facility that Bills fans and New Yorkers can be proud of for years to come,” said Kevin Younis, CEO of Empire State Development, which commissioned the study, via the Associated Press.

According to calculations, the team brings in about $26.6 million per year to New York State in actual dollars. Though not in the report, you’d have to think that the vast majority of that is income tax.

A downtown stadium would add about $1.7 million per year, according to the study, or $53 million over the life of the lease, hardly worth the additional $750 million to bring the stadium downtown. Could the Bills and the State get enough value out of a downtown stadium with other events and a sprawling economic development around a new building? Past endeavors around the United States would say that’s unlikely.

The Bills and State would like to get negotiations handled by the end of the calendar year, a process that can move forward now that the study is completed. Governor Hochul would then be able to present the measure as part of her budget this April before elections next November. With a spirited campaign and several expected challengers, that timeline is important before the campaigning picks up. Buffalo’s lease expires after the 2022 season, and the team has said they won’t sign an extension without the new stadium deal in place.