New Highmark Stadium

Capacity62 000
Country United States of America
ClubsBuffalo Bills
CategoryDesign being implemented
Cost$1.7 B
Design Populous
Contractor Gilbane Building Company, Turner Construction Company


New Highmark Stadium – design description

How did the design for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills originate?

The current Buffalo Bills stadium, Highmark Stadium, was built between 1972 and 1973, shortly after the team officially joined the NFL. The construction of a new arena for the franchise had been under discussion for some time, and in 2014 a special team was set up to work on the project, made up of Buffalo Bills representatives, local politicians or businessmen.

Several different locations were considered for the new stadium, besides the idea of building near the existing facility, a location in downtown Buffalo was also seriously considered. In the end, however, it was agreed that the new venue would be built right next to Highmark Stadium, on the other side of Abbott Road. The new ground lease is to run for a period of 30 years.

In March 2022, it was announced that a funding model for the construction of the new facility had been agreed. The cost, estimated at $1.4bn, is to be covered by State of New York ($600m), Erie County ($250m) and money from the Buffalo Bills ($550m, of which $200m is to be a loan from the NFL). There were later reports of further increases, reaching $1.7 billion. Any cost overruns are to be covered by the Buffalo Bills.

In total, the public funds' share of the project will be $850m. This was to be a record-breaking subsidy for the construction of a stadium for an NFL team with taxpayers' money, although the later-announced project for a new arena for the Tennessee Titans involves an even larger public subsidy ($1.26 billion). Such a high degree of support from the local authorities sparked controversy and criticism.

Shortly after funding agreement was reached, the renowned Populous studio was hired to work on the architectural design of the future stadium. Previously, a partnership was also established with Legends, responsible for marketing and project management, among other things.

The first renderings of the new stadium from Populous were published in October 2022. Shortly afterwards, the companies responsible for the construction process were also selected. These are: Gilbane Building Company and Turner Construction Company, in collaboration with 34 Group. Site preparation work began in early May 2023, with the official groundbreaking ceremony taking place on June 5, 2023. The facility, as planned, should be ready in July 2026.

On the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony, an extension of the partnership with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is the title sponsor of the existing Buffalo Bills stadium, was announced. Under the agreement, the new facility will be named 'Highmark Stadium' (for the duration of construction, it will be referred to as 'New Highmark Stadium' to distinguish it from the existing stadium).

What will the new Buffalo Bills stadium be like?

The new stadium will be built right next to the Buffalo Bills' existing arena, Highmark Stadium (across Abbott Road), in Orchard Park, a southern suburb of Buffalo. The field in the new arena will be rotated slightly from the previous venue, to a north-south direction. From the outside, the facility will be reminiscent of local architecture. The new stadium will have a much more extensive commercial and catering offer and is expected to be vibrant even outside match days.

The stands of the new arena will be divided into several levels and will have a capacity of around 62,000 spectators, almost 10,000 fewer than in the old stadium. The new Buffalo Bills facility will thus rank among the smallest in the NFL. However, comfort and visibility will be improved, and spectators will be able to enjoy a more diverse range of seating choices. The upper stands will be roofed, with the canopy covering 65% of the seats.

Full roofing of the stadium, which is becoming increasingly popular in the NFL, was abandoned not only because of the high cost of such a solution, but also because broadcasts from snowy Buffalo often attracted attention and almost became part of the Bills' image.

For the better comfort of the spectators, in addition to a partial canopy, the auditorium will also be equipped with heating, and thanks to the revised field configuration, higher stands, roofing and exterior facade, the facility is expected to be much less affected by the wind blowing off Lake Erie.



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