Posts Tagged ‘New Stadium’

The Chicago Bears plan to build an enclosed suburban stadium that could host Super Bowls, College Football Playoff games and Final Fours.

The Bears released conceptual illustrations Tuesday of the proposed stadium and entertainment complex that would be built on the site of a former horse racing track in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The Bears said the project could include restaurants, office space, a hotel, fitness center, new parks and open areas as well as “other improvements for the community to enjoy.”

“We envision a multi-purpose entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class enclosed stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs, and Final Four,” the team said in a statement.

The Bears said they would not seek public funding for the stadium if the sale of the 326-acre property is completed and if they decide to move there. But they would seek taxpayer assistance for the rest of the project.

The organization signed a purchase agreement last year for the tract of land that’s about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field. Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips, who announced last week he will retire after this season, has said a deal likely wouldn’t close until early 2023.

The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field, where the team has played since 1971, runs through 2033.

In July, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed three options for renovating the stadium. One included enclosing it, and another called for rebuilding both end zones with columns that could support a dome. A third option was to modify it to be a multipurpose facility better suited for soccer.

The Bears said Tuesday they will not consider Soldier Field renovations or explore any other potential stadium sites while they are under contract for the property in Arlington Heights.

“Much remains to be decided, but any decision will be made in the best interests of the Bears long-term future, our fans and the Chicagoland community,” the team said.

Of the three illustrations released Tuesday, one is a map showing the stadium near a highway and commuter rail tracks and the mixed-use district southeast of the stadium. Two other aerial illustrations show the stadium and several other buildings and green spaces.

The Bears did not mention what the seating capacity would be at a new stadium, nor potential costs to construct the stadium or develop the rest of the property. They said construction would create more than 48,000 jobs, as well as $9.4 billion in economic impact for the region and provide $3.9 billion in income to workers.

The Bears estimate the completed project would add 9,750 long-term jobs, $1.4 billion in annual economic impact and $601 million a year in income to workers.

The Bears also said the project would generate $16 million in annual tax revenue, in addition to property taxes for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for Cook County, and $51.3 million for the State of Illinois — calling the possible development “one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history.”

Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District and underwent a $690 million transformation in 2002 that forced the team to play home games at the University of Illinois and ultimately led to the loss of the stadium’s National Historic Landmark designation.

The interior was demolished, replaced by a flying saucer-like, glass-dominated structure cantilevered over the famous Greek and Romanesque colonnades. The clash of styles drew criticism, and the renovation reduced seating for Bears games to 61,500, lowest in the NFL.

The lakefront location and harsh weather make it difficult to maintain the playing surface, and the often choppy condition has also been a sore spot for players and coaches on the Bears, as well as other teams.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday presented three options for renovating Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, but the team said it’s not interested.

Lightfoot proposed fully enclosing the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome; rebuilding both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome-ready; or modifying Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer.

“Any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

The mayor’s office estimated the costs of the three options would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion. It did not say how it would pay for any of the options.

The proposed renovations would expand seating from 61,500 seats (now the lowest capacity in the NFL) up to 70,000; increase the number of suites from 133 to 140; and quadruple concession area square footage from 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters), the mayor’s office said.

The Bears had no new comment on Lightfoot’s proposals but the team reiterated the same statement it issued July 7 when a panel appointed by Lightfoot recommended the city explore enclosing Soldier Field.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract,” that statement said.

The team signed a purchase agreement last year for a 326-acre (131.93-hectare) site in suburban Arlington Heights, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) miles northwest of Soldier Field, that could be the site of a future stadium. President Ted Phillips has said that deal likely won’t close until early 2023, at which point the team will decide whether it’s “financially feasible to try to develop it further.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Oakland Athletics need to quickly reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark and that relocation could be considered if a deal isn’t struck for a facility in the Bay Area.

“I was at the Coliseum myself recently,” he told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday before the All-Star Game. “The condition of the Coliseum is a really serious problem for us. I’ve said it, this is not news. It is not a major league-quality facility at this point.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is pushing for approval of a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted last month to reclassify a 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built. The team, under controlling owner John Fisher, also has explored a possible new ballpark in Las Vegas.

An Oakland City Council vote on a ballpark is possible later this year.

“Mayor Schaaf continues to work hard to try to get an arrangement, an agreement to develop the Howard Terminal site,” Manfred said. “I’m hopeful that that can still happen. And I said this recently and I’ll repeat, it needs to happen now. It needs to be done.”

The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season.

After proposing and withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood. The stadium would cost more than $1 billion, with views toward San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and Port of Oakland.

After trading veterans and cutting payroll to a major league-low of $48 million on opening day, the A’s are an AL-worst 32-61 and have drawn a big league-worst 362,756 in home attendance, an average of 8,637.

“I think Oakland, the A’s, face an extraordinarily difficult situation. John Fisher has invested literally tens of millions of dollars over the entire period of my commissionership in an effort to get a stadium done in Oakland,” Manfred said. “I think that negativity always accompanies the situation where players are traded and a club for whatever set of reasons decides to start over. But I think bigger picture, John is committed and has invested really significant dollars in trying to get baseball in Oakland on an even footing, a sustainable footing over the long haul.”

A’s President Dave Kaval said last month he has made weekly trips to Las Vegas, investing time on design work and feasibility studies. Manfred declined to discuss whether MLB would waive charging the team a relocation fee — MLB has not charged relocation fees in the past.

“Mr. Fisher has to make a decision as to whether he wants to make an agreement or can make an agreement that is approved by the City Council that would keep the A’s in Oakland,” Manfred said. “If that’s not possible, we have a process that deals with an application for relocation, and I assume that’s where it goes if in fact no agreement can be made in Oakland.”

Baseball owners have put off possible expansion from 30 teams to 32 until Oakland and Tampa Bay get deals for new ballparks.

“I need to get Oakland and Tampa resolved before we could realistically have a conversation about expansion,” Manfred said.

The Cleveland Browns are apparently eyeing a new $1 billion stadium – likely to come at significant taxpayer expense – as part of a costly lakefront redevelopment plan, at a time when the team is already mired in multimillion-dollar controversies.

NEOtrans real estate blogger Ken Prendergast reported the news in a post Friday, writing that unnamed sources close to team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam told him they want a covered stadium that could cost over $1 billion and are even open to moving the city-owned stadium to a new location near downtown to get it. And so far, the Browns have not denied it.

In a recent interview, Peter John-Baptiste, senior vice president of communications for the Browns and Haslam Sports Group, told Prendergast that he was “a little too far out in front of the story” and would not comment on specifics.

Reached by phone Sunday, John-Baptiste declined to respond to the blog post but confirmed that the team is conducting “feasibility studies on what a new stadium could look like.” The results are expected sometime in 2023 and focus “primarily on renovating the current stadium,” he said, but he could not definitively refute whether plans might eventually include rebuilding or moving the arena.

Instead, he pointed to ongoing efforts to redevelop up to 70 acres of city-owned lakefront property, including the land on which the current stadium sits, into a sort of ballpark village surrounding – and further supporting — the stadium, as evidence of the team’s intent to stay put. The plan envisions adding housing, retail, parking, hospitality and recreation spaces along the harbor, but is dependent on the city building a land bridge linking the area to other downtown amenities.

“Our focus is on the lakefront,” John-Baptiste said. “That’s the neighborhood we’re in, and that’s where we want to be.”

He could not say how much an upgraded facility might cost, but it’s likely to require significant public funding, considering most professional teams negotiate subsidies from their home city and county. The current stadium, which was built in 1999, cost $283 million, largely funded by city bonds backed by the county’s “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarette purchases.

A portion of that tax, which expires in 2035, is currently used to pay for capital or emergency repairs to the stadium, per the terms of the team’s lease agreement. Earlier this month, Cleveland City Council approved using the fund for $10 million in repairs, including a replacement of the pedestrian ramps that carry fans to and from the stadium’s upper levels. The remaining portion came from the city’s general fund.

The news comes at a time when the team is already under fire for guaranteeing quarterback Deshaun Watson’s $230 million contract – the most in NFL history – despite the now 24 massage therapists who have filed civil lawsuits against him, alleging sexual misconduct. That means he could continue to be paid even if he does receive disciplinary action, ranging from suspension for a specific number of games or indefinitely, to banishment from the league.

The NFL Players Association is preparing to fight any suspension without pay, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot recently reported.

The news also comes as the Browns continue to defend their million-dollar relationship with FirstEnergy, amid the ongoing bribery scandal around House Bill 6 and accusations that the company bankrolled a dark money group that tried to undermine its city-owned competitor. Cleveland City Council recently called on the company to relinquish its naming rights of the football stadium, but the Browns said they remain “committed to our relationship and look forward to our continued partnership.”

FirstEnergy reportedly paid the team $107 million in 2013 for naming rights through 2030.

The Browns have also been one of the main catalysts for redeveloping Cleveland’s lakefront. The Haslams proposed a plan last year to extend the downtown Mall into a sort of land bridge over the Ohio 2 Shoreway, finally linking downtown to lakefront attractions, like the city-owned football stadium, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. Not only is it believed the bridge would increase public access to the lakefront, but it would extend the city grid to the water’s edge and make new land available and attractive for other businesses.

The plan already has significant backing. Mayor Justin Bibb, the city of Cleveland, and the Greater Cleveland Partnership have organized a civic task force with five working groups and more than 150 participants to try to make the transformation happen.

The cost to reconfigure traffic and build the land bridge has been estimated at $229 million, the majority of which is expected to be funded by state and federal sources. But the city is likely to have to kick in at least some portion.

That cost would compete against any funding the city might provide toward renovations or a new Browns stadium, but it seems unlikely that the poorest big city in the nation will have much more to give.

The city’s 2022 budget includes $62 million more in spending than revenues will cover, and the city is already considering how it may participate in $1 billion plans to renovate or replace the Justice Center, which houses city and county courthouses, not to mention the financial impact of where the county chooses to build a new jail.

In an interview on cleveland.com’s “Today in Ohio” podcast leading up to the election, reporter Seth Richardson asked now-Mayor Justin Bibb what he would do if the Browns asked the city to subsidize a new stadium or renovations, like The Guardians had recently secured.

At the time, Bibb said he considers the city’s major sports teams “a great asset and a great boon to our regional economy,” but he would not support subsidizing sports stadiums unless the investments can be recouped and leveraged for more economic development.

“If we can find a way to raise nearly half a billion dollars to support Progressive Field and their renovations, then surely we can also find a way to have the same level of investment to support our neighborhoods,” Bibb said at the time.

Though the city and county have partnered to fund other arenas – each picking up a third of the tab for $202.5 million in renovations to Progressive Field as part of a lease agreement with The Guardians – it’s unlikely that the city would be able to turn to the county for support either. Cuyahoga County Council is already weighing plans to spend $550 million on a new jail, $1 billion on a court facility, and $30 million or more on planned renovations to the Global Center for Health Innovation.

According to NEOtrans’s reporting, sources contend the revenues generated by the lakefront development plan could offset a significant portion of the building costs for a new stadium, even if it were moved to a new location. The post referenced two potential sites under consideration: either where the Main Post Office currently stands at 2400 Orange Ave., southeast of downtown, or near the Federal Bureau of Investigation building at 1501 Lakeside Ave. E.

They also say a stadium with either a permanent dome or retractable roof would also be able to generate revenue year-round, providing space for concerts, shows or other major events. The current open-air stadium is used only about a dozen times a year.

It appears the Haslams have just been waiting on final waterfront redevelopment plans to pull the trigger on plans for an upgraded stadium, according to reporting on the Browns’ official website.

“The city and The (Greater) Cleveland partnership has taken over the waterfront development piece, and we have committees working on that,” Dee Haslam said in March. “Our part now is how we bring the stadium up to a better standard, so I think we’ve started interviewing and thinking about architects and consultants.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics need to reach new ballpark deals soon and left open the possibility of considering relocation if agreements are not struck.

“There is urgency with respect to Tampa,” Manfred said Thursday during a news conference following an owners meeting. “There needs to be a resolution in the Tampa Bay region for the Rays.”

Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season. The Rays said in January that MLB had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.

“Obviously, the end of that lease is a hard deadline, but you need to take into account that stadiums take a little bit of time to build, right?” Manfred said. “So we are getting to the point where wherever it is in the region that has an interest in having 162 baseball games, they need to get to it, get with the club — I know the Rays are anxious to get something done — and see if a deal can be made.”

Asked whether he was considering relocation, Manfred responded: “Right now, I’m focused on Tampa,” putting emphasis on “right now” and later adding he was referring to the region, not the specific side of the bay. “I think a great man once said, all good things must end at some point. And but right now we’re focused on Tampa.”

The Athletics have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have proposed a new ballpark at Howard Terminal and are working with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to gain the necessary approvals.

“There is really significant activity in Oakland. The political process has moved along significantly,” Manfred said. “I met with Mayor Schaaf last week. She has done a really good job at moving the process forward in Oakland. But as you all know, California political processes are their own sort of animal. There’s work to do on the Oakland side. I think the A’s prudently have continued to pursue the Las Vegas alternative. We like Las Vegas as a market. Again, it’s in the same category as Tampa. We need a solution in both those markets and the time has come for that solution.”

Oakland has averaged a major league-low of 8,283 fans this season and the Rays are 25th at 13,740, also ahead of Miami, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The NFL’s Washington Commanders once again find themselves at the center of an off-the-field issue that has nothing to do with football, dealing another blow to their rapidly sagging reputation as one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports.

The fallout from the latest misstep requiring an explanation or apology — assistant coach Jack Del Rio comparing the protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — could have far-reaching consequences beyond the locker room.

It immediately scuttled the team’s best opportunity to reach a deal to build a new stadium, which was the most important long-term project facing owner Dan Snyder amid a lengthy drought without a playoff victory and a dearth of fan enthusiasm. Multiple Virginia lawmakers pointed to Del Rio’s comments as another reason not to vote on legislation luring the Commanders to the state, and by Thursday the bill already on its last legs was pushed off the table for the rest of the year.

In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Democratic Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw cited various investigations and “other issues to be answered.”

The list of embarrassing and concerning issues facing the once-storied franchise continues to grow.

The Commanders, who rebranded after dropping their longtime name in 2020 amid the national reckoning over racism in the U.S. and played the last two seasons as the Washington Football Team, have been the subject of investigations into workplace culture since several employees detailed examples of sexual harassment.

Attorney Beth Wilkinson’s investigation launched first by the team and taken over by the NFL unearthed a toxic workplace culture and prompted a $10 million fine. When the league did not release a written report of the investigation last summer, Congress launched its own review of the sexual harassment allegations, which branched out into potential financial improprieties based on the testimony of a former employee.

While the Federal Trade Commission was informed of the possibility of financial laws being broken — which the team strongly denies — and Virginia and the District of Columbia officials also began looking into the matter, Congress turned its attention back to workplace culture. Just last week, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform invited Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to appear at a hearing June 22.

A spokeswoman said the committee has been in communication with the team and league about the request, which has now been pushed to the backburner by Del Rio’s comments made this week on the verge of public hearings opening into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“People’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem,” Del Rio said Wednesday when asked about a social media post he made comparing the summer of 2020 protests to the insurrection. “And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we’re going to make that a major deal. I just think it’s kind of two standards.”

He apologized hours later in a Twitter post, saying it was “irresponsible and negligent” to call Jan. 6 a “dust-up.” Del Rio added he stands by comments “condemning violence in communities across the country.”

The president of the NAACP on Thursday called for Del Rio to be terminated, saying the comments could not have been more offensive and ignorant.

“Downplaying the insurrection by comparing it to nationwide protests, which were in response to a public lynching, is twisted,” Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “You can’t coach a majority Black team while turning your back on the Black community.”

There is no indication Del Rio’s job is in danger as a result of his comments.

Coach Ron Rivera brushed off any notion of Del Rio’s opinions becoming an issue around the Commanders, whose roster is made up of a majority of Black players. Del Rio’s comments have not led to public outrage by Commanders players or around the league.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has no comment on Del Rio when contacted by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Jonathan Allen, a team leader who is Black, told NBC Sports Washington: “I don’t care about his opinion. As long as he shows up every day and he works hard, that’s what I want from my defensive coordinator.”

The potential impact of Del Rio’s remarks on a stadium that wouldn’t open until he, Rivera and almost every current player is no longer with the team may extend beyond Virginia. It already appeared unlikely for the team to return to its old home at the site of RFK Stadium in the District of Columbia, and several city councilmembers on Thursday made it “unequivocally” clear they won’t support using that land for a new Commanders facility.

D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who was not one of the seven members to send a letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about RFK, said Del Rio’s comment was inappropriate and evidence of revisionist history about the events of Jan. 6.

“It’s just part of many controversies,” Mendelson told The AP. He added his biggest issue with the team is the lack of a written report from the workplace misconduct investigation.

That remains an open issue, with no indication by the league that a report will ever be released. But Del Rio’s comments are indicative of Washington’s team culture, according to a lawyer who represents more than 40 former employees.

“Jack Del Rio’s ignorant remarks, and the failure of the team leadership to immediately make clear that his comments were inappropriate and offensive, is only further evidence of the failure of this organization to evolve or grow,” attorney Lisa Banks said. “It remains a dysfunctional, toxic environment with no conscience or accountability, despite all claims to the contrary.”

The Washington Commanders have bought land in Woodbridge, Virginia, for what could be a potential site of the NFL team’s next stadium, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the team had not announced the acquisition. The Commanders paid approximately $100 million for 200 acres of land in Prince William County and are still considering other locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the person said.

This site is just over 20 miles outside D.C., about a 45-minute drive from RFK Stadium, which was the team’s home from 1961-1996. The Commanders’ current lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, expires in 2027.

ESPN, which first reported the sale, added that the site is the team’s preferred choice for a 60,000-seat domed stadium that would be available for use year-round and include a practice facility and amphitheater. Building a stadium that could host a Super Bowl has long been considered one of the organization’s goals.

Owner Dan Snyder and Co. have been looking at several possible sites in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, though the specter of investigations into the team’s finances clouded how those jurisdictions might handle helping him finance a stadium.

The Maryland House last month approved a $400 million plan to develop the area around FedEx Field that did not include money for a new stadium. Virginia lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would make it favorable for the Commanders to build their next stadium there.

David Beckham’s dream of building a new $1 billion home for his Inter Miami Major League Soccer franchise cleared a major hurdle on Thursday after years of uncertainty and fierce public opposition.

Inter Miami, which is co-owned by the former England captain, have played their first three MLS campaigns in Fort Lauderdale at DRV PNK Stadium, around 30 miles north of Miami.

But after a meeting at Miami City Hall, the club earned the requisite votes from the five commissioners to lease land at Melreese Country Club near Miami international airport to build a new 25,000-seater stadium, due to be ready in 2025.

There was drama towards the conclusion of a six-hour hearing when Miami commissioner Ken Russell voted against the deal only to change his mind after a 30-minute break to ensure a 4-1 triumph amid jubilant scenes involving Inter Miami officials.

The golf course at Melreese, the only public one in the city, will now begin to be converted into the stadium complex which will be called Miami Freedom Park.

It will include a state-of-the-art multi-use stadium, a 750-room hotel, technology hub, one million square feet of office space and a 58-acre park with soccer pitches for public use.

Political infighting had halted the deal with it being branded a “real estate deal with a soccer stadium” by opponents.

But Jorge Mas, the Miami born construction magnate who is effectively Beckham’s right-hand man, could barely contain his delight.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a phenomenal deal for Miami,” said Mas, 59. “This is a legacy project. This is an amazing day.” Co-owner Mas spoke passionately at the start of the hearing about the project which has been six years in the making and has encountered myriad problems since its conception.

Inter Miami purchased a plot of land in Overtown, a dilapidated downtown area, in 2015 but Mas has always pushed for a far more lucrative development which they hope will create a Silicon Valley-type environment in South Florida.

Mas said the importance of being allowed to create the $1 billion complex which he said would help create around 15,000 jobs.

Inter Miami stress Freedom Park is ‘100% privately financed’ and Mas made the point that in both Tennessee and Buffalo, where new NFL stadiums are being planned, funding will come from the public purse.

“This deal is unprecedented in US sport,” added Mas.

Beckham was absent as was head coach Phil Neville although both were following the events closely.

Sporting director Chris Henderson was present at the hearing which lasted close to six hours.

“We are really building something here,” he told AFP. “Because of David’s involvement, the brand has always been big and of course this will just increase that.”

State and county taxpayers will be asked to commit $850 million in public funds toward construction of the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium — which has a state-projected price tag of $1.4 billion — as part of a 30-year lease agreement reached on Monday.

New York state will commit $600 million in funds, which will be in included in the budget due on Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a press release. Erie County will commit $250 million toward the project, with the NFL and the Buffalo Bills committing $550 million in financing.

The dollar amount is considered to be the largest public commitment for an NFL facility. The deal is meant to secure the NFL team’s long-term future in Buffalo, with the proposed 60,000-plus-seat facility to be built across the street from the Bills’ current stadium.

Although the taxpayer burden of 60% is considered high, the agreed upon funding falls in line historically. The state and county have shared about 73% of the cost to build, maintain and upgrade the Bills’ existing facility, now called Highmark Stadium, which opened in 1973.

“I went into these negotiations trying to answer three questions — how long can we keep the Bills in Buffalo, how can we make sure this project benefits the hard-working men and women of Western New York and how can we get the best deal for taxpayers?” Hochul, a Buffalo native, said in a released statement. “I’m pleased that after months of negotiations, we’ve come out with the best answers possible.”

Without going into detail, Hochul said the project will create 10,000 union jobs with the commitment recouped by the economic activity generated by the team. The state previously projected the Bills — the only NFL team actually based in New York — generate $27 million in direct annual income for the state.

The announcement came as the the Bills’ stadium proposal was approved at the NFL’s owners meetings in Florida. Owners also approved granting the Bills what’s called a $200 million G4 loan to go toward construction costs.

Under the G4 program rules, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula are required to at least match the loan.

The NFL’s $200 million contribution was already factored in as part of the funding package.

Hochul did not include the Bills stadium commitment in the $216 billion budget proposal submitted in January, which will now be added this week. Hochul said there are numerous options at her disposal to draw upon the necessary money to fund the project.

The Buffalo News previously reported the largest commitment of taxpayer funds for an NFL stadium involved the Las Vegas Raiders, with $750 million of public funds directed toward constructing the $1.97 billion Allegiant Stadium, which opened in 2020.

There have been, however, higher splits of public-private funds for NFL facilities, the newspaper found. Taxpayers covered 86% of the $720 million cost to build the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2008. The public commitment for the Cincinnati Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, which opened in 2000, covered $425 million of the $450 million construction costs.

The Bills’ existing facility was deemed too expensive to renovate. A state study in November pegged renovation costs at $862 million.

If approved, the Bills project the new facility could be built in time for the start of the 2026 season. The Bills’ existing lease with the state and county runs through July 2023.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to propose $500 million in bonds in the state budget to help fund a new covered Tennessee Titans stadium envisioned for Nashville, two sources confirmed to The Associated Press.

The two people are familiar with the details of the governor’s funding amendment and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the governor’s budget amendment has not been released. It’s scheduled for a public discussion Tuesday in front of Tennessee lawmakers, who would also need to approve of the plan to authorize state bonds.

The funding would fill in one piece of the puzzle for the Titans, who have gone from trying to modernize the existing Nissan Stadium to working on plans for a new stadium right next door after renovation costs more than doubled to $1.2 billion. Nashville Mayor John Cooper has lowered expectations about any potential funding from the metro government, saying earlier this month that “fundamentally, the city is not in the entertainment or stadium business itself.”

The sources mentioned that the new stadium plans would include some kind of roof, with one source saying the funding would be contingent on the stadium being enclosed. A covered stadium, whether it’s a fixed or retractable roof, could help Nashville compete for the biggest events in or outside of sports, from the Super Bowl to NCAA basketball Final Four. Axios Nashville first reported on the governor’s proposed funding for the new stadium.

The push comes as the Buffalo Bills landed an agreement Monday for a proposed $1.4 billion new open-air stadium, fueled by a record $850 million taxpayer price tag to help secure the franchise’s future in the region for the next 30-plus years.

The Bills and Titans stadiums, and the increasing price tags to fund such projects, will undoubtedly reignite arguments over whether taxpayers should be on the hook for new high-end sports facilities.

Earlier this month, Titans President Burke Nihill discussed the team’s plans at a Metro Sports Authority board meeting, according to The Tennessean. The Titans currently are working with Metro Nashville officials on the design and costs of building a new stadium on Nissan’s parking lots between the stadium and Interstate 24.

Nihill noted inflation is driving costs higher, and both Nashville and the Titans want to finish work in time for the 2026 season.

The stadium opened in 1999 on a 30-year lease and the Titans had originally planned to renovate it for $292 million. Nashville officials have been working on plans for a year to redevelop hundreds of acres around Nissan Stadium on the east bank of the Cumberland River.

That included renovating Nissan Stadium, with the first estimate $600 million. That doubled when contractors raised new concerns about the condition of the stadium and its infrastructure.

Nihill has said a new stadium is the better value in the long run.

“This is a very basic building in the eyes of the NFL,” Nihill said. “This is one of the bottom 20% of buildings in the NFL built before 9/11. Security enhancements adopted by the NFL haven’t been added.”

Nihill estimated that reaching a deal for the new stadium, how to pay for it and design the new building could take more than a year. Construction should take 31 months.