Topline: The Buffalo Bills broke ground on a $1.6 billion new stadium last June, and New York taxpayers are on the hook for $850 million of those funds, the largest-ever public investment in an NFL stadium.
Key facts: The Bills’ new stadium is funded in part by $600 million in New York state taxpayer money and $250 million directly from Erie County, where it’s located.
The price tag tops the record $750 million in taxpayer funds the Las Vegas Raiders used to build their stadium in 2020.
While 61% of the Bills’ stadium is being paid for by the public, Gov. Kathy Hochul says is a low rate relative to other NFL teams. The Bills’ current stadium was entirely financed by taxpayers in 1973.
Renovating the Bills’ current home of Highmark Stadium would have cost $862 million, which the Bills and the state agreed was inefficient.
Hochul, a Buffalo native, says the Bills bring in $350 million to the Buffalo area every year and that the stadium will create 10,000 jobs. She also said the team generates $27 million in annual taxes.
Background: Auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found that Erie County’s investment of $250 million is three-quarters of what the county paid to all vendors in 2021 ($326 million).
The $650 million in state taxes being used for the stadium is more than two-thirds the $910 million the state used to finance the Buffalo City School District in 2022.
The new stadium does not include a roof, despite frequent snowfall during football season, which was one of the main criticisms of the Bills’ old stadium.
However, 80% of the new seats are weather protected.
The deal does include language allowing New York to sue the Bills for the entire cost of the stadium if they try and relocate the franchise within the next 30 years.
The initial proposal drew backlash because Hochul’s husband, William, was employed by Delaware North, which runs concession stands at the Bills’ stadium. William Hochul resigned from Delaware North last August.
Supporting quote: “I’m pleased that after months of negotiations, we’ve come out with the best answers possible,” Hochul said. “The Bills will stay in Buffalo for another 30 years, the project will create 10,000 union jobs and New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the economic activity the team generates.”
Summary: There’s no denying that the Bills are important to Buffalo’s economy, especially during their current run of five straight playoff appearances. However, taxpayers are now paying a large price to keep the franchise in New York.
The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com