When the Buffalo Bills open their new stadium, the NFL team may also be looking for a new naming rights sponsor.
Front Office Sports reported Friday that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health insurance company that currently holds the naming rights to the Bills’ current stadium in Orchard Park, NY, is not committed yet to transferring its rights agreement to the planned $1.4 billion stadium.
It would be an entirely new contract…It would not be the same new contract that would carry over,” Highmark spokesperson Amber Hartmann told the sports business web publication.
Highmark has held the rights to the current stadium since last year.
The article notes that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy touted his company as a possible naming rights holder back when the team was looking for a new sponsor two years ago.
That period also happened to coincide with the timeframe Barstool Sportsbook applying for a mobile sports betting license in the state. The New York State Gaming Commission did not select the sportsbook for a license.
If Not Barstool, Then…?
With Barstool currently not operating in New York, that likely puts a damper on the Penn National Gaming brand’s interest in the new stadium. However, a lot can change between and when the new stadium is ready to open. In this case, the new Bills stadium should open for the 2026 season.
The state’s top gaming legislators have expressed an interest in expanding the number of licensees.
But even if Barstool remains on the outside looking in, there exists other sports betting operators that could potentially eye the Bills – the only NFL team that actually plays its games in New York – as a possible marketing partner.
In January, shortly after online sports betting launched in New York, the Bills announced a multi-year deal with Caesars Entertainment that made the Caesars Sportsbook an official mobile wagering partner with the team.
Another potential partner could be the Seneca Nation of Indians. The Western New York-based tribe extended its official casino partner agreement with both the Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Both teams are owned by Pegula Sports & Entertainment.
However, that may be a thorny issue. That’s because New York state officials plan to use funds it recently received from the Seneca Nation to settle a long-running dispute regarding gaming compact payments toward the state’s share of the new stadium’s cost. It’s expected the Seneca payments would cover more than $400 million of the state’s $600 million commitment.
Tribal leaders though have criticized the state’s actions in forcing a settlement. That comes as both sides must begin negotiating a new deal to replace the current 21-year pact, which ends next year.
Gaming Companies and the Name Game
If Barstool or another gaming company ended up snagging the naming rights for the new Bills Stadium, it wouldn’t be the first time it happened.
Last year, Caesars Entertainment got naming rights for the Superdome in New Orleans. In Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is located about 10 miles away from Hard Rock International’s headquarters in Davie.
Several tribal nations also have secured rights for smaller stadiums and arenas. That includes the Harrah’s Cherokee Center, which includes a 7,600-seat arena and 2,400-seat auditorium in Asheville, NC, and Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
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