BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — In a sign the Buffalo Bills are closing in on a stadium deal, the team hired Populous architectural firm to draw up designs for its proposed new facility, a person familiar with discussions confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills and their parent company, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, have not announced the decision. The Athletic first reported the news earlier in the day.
The move comes as the team is in negotiations with the state and county to reach an agreement that would commit hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to build a stadium across from the Bills’ existing facility in Buffalo’s suburb of Orchard Park. A state study estimated the proposed open-air, 60,000-plus seat stadium would cost $1.354 billion.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed confidence last week that she can have a deal in place before the end of the month to have the project included on the state budget due in April. One outstanding issue she specifically mentioned was the length of the lease to ensure the franchise’s long-term presence in the Buffalo region.
The Bills entered discussions last summer with an extensive line-by-line monetary breakdown of the proposed facility, but without actual renderings of what the stadium would resemble. The team said it would hire a firm only after an agreement is in place.
Populous is recognized as being among the world leaders in stadium designs. It’s portfolio of projects includes Olympic Games venues, including Beijing, and numerous NFL stadiums, including the homes of the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.
The Bills are seeking to replace their existing facility which opened in 1973 and has been deemed too expensive to renovate. If approved, the project construction could be completed for the start of the 2026 season.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL