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NFL

Buffalo Bills start construction of their new stadium: Why is it called the New Highmark Stadium?

Among the most recognizable teams in the NFL, the Bills are set for a new home, but it seems they’ll be taking a few things from their current one, like the name.

Update:
Among the most recognizable teams in the NFL, the Bills are set for a new home, but it seems they’ll be taking a few things from their current one, like the name.
Timothy T LudwigAFP

Having struck a new multi-year stadium naming rights deal with the established insurance company, the Bills’ new home won’t be far away from its current one. Indeed, fans will have to go just a stone’s throw away to see their same old team play in a brand new environment.

Buffalo Bills set to maintain Highmark name in new stadium

According to reports, the Buffalo Bills have struck a new multi-year stadium naming rights deal with health insurance company, Highmark Blue Cross Shield, for the franchise’s planned stadium, which is set to open in 2026. The open-air stadium which has an estimated construction cost of $1.4 billion, is expected to seat 63,000 people and will maintain the same name as the franchise’s current home, Highmark Stadium, which in fact is located just opposite the planned location of the new arena in Orchard Park, New York.

As for how the two sides got here, you may recall that back in 2021 Highmark became the team’s naming rights partner after putting pen to paper on a 10-year deal with the Bills. Interestingly, they also had first right of refusal to continue holding naming rights once the new stadium is built. It is understood that this new deal was brokered by premium experiences company Legends, which was hired last April to lead project management, sales, and partnerships for the Bills’ new stadium. Indeed, as part of the deliverables with which they were tasked, Legends was asked to sell seat licenses, naming rights, and ‘founding partner’ arrangements.

What have the Bills said about the deal with Highmark?

Though you could have probably guessed it, The Bills were clear in their reasoning as to why they decided to keep the Highmark stadium name as the team prepares to relocate for the first time since 1973. Speaking on the thinking of the franchise, Bills executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ron Raccuia, said “We felt like that was important to the authenticity of the franchise in the community. Organizations and teams lose some of that value of the importance of a naming right partner when it changes a lot. So, it was really important for us to have that continuity.”

The deal was announced at a recent ‘breaking ground’ ceremony to mark the start of construction on the new stadium grounds, with major construction expected to begin this month. If you’re wondering, the agreement for the new venue was signed in March of 2022 after years of negotiations between the franchise, New York State and Erie County. The deal also includes a 30-year lease and non relocation agreement that effectively means the team can’t leave Buffalo, which represents the second-smallest NFL market after the Green Bay Packers.