The home of the Buffalo Bills will have a new name starting next season.
The team announced on Monday that the stadium in Orchard Park would have its fifth different name in history, taking on the name of a local health insurer. The announcement comes as the team is planning to re-open doors to fans after a season of empty seats due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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New Name Announced
As the Buffalo News reported, the Bills announced that the stadium naming rights were acquired by Highmark BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, a company that underwent a recent merger between HealthNow New York and the Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc.
The home of the Bills, which was known Bills Stadium last season and New Era Field for four seasons before that, will now officially be called Highmark BlueCross BlueShield Stadium. As the Buffalo News noted, it will likely be known by the shortened version, Highmark Field. There were no further details of the deal, including the length or dollar amount attached to the agreement, the report noted.
“We are proud to welcome Highmark to the Buffalo Bills family and we are thrilled to partner with them on a new naming rights deal for our stadium,” Kim Pegula, Bills president and co-owner, said in a statement, via the Buffalo News.
— Highmark Stadium (@BillsStadium) March 29, 2021
Pegula added that the partnership would extend beyond naming rights alone.
“We are confident that Highmark BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is committed to maintaining their status as a healthcare and philanthropic leader in our region,” she said. “We look forward to many years of working together with their team creating great memories at not only NFL football games, but at many other health and wellness events and community celebrations.”
Bills Fans Likely to Return
After a season of mostly empty stadiums, Bills fans will likely get a chance to visit the newly renamed Highmark Field to watch games in 2021. After a pilot program that allowed close to 6,700 fans to attend both Bills playoff games, the state of New York has moved forward with a more extended re-opening that allows fans at 20 percent capacity in stadiums statewide.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) March 29, 2021
As CBS Sports reported, the New York Yankees and New York Mets have already announced plans to allow in thousands of fans. Both teams have announced strict protocol for fans, including requiring them to either take a COVID-19 test with negative results or provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Fans also must have their temperature checked upon entering the stadium, and all fans over the age of two must wear a mask during the game, even those who have been fully vaccinated.
Bills fans had missed one of the best seasons nearly two decades, with the team going 7-1 during the regular season in front of empty stadiums, and winning two playoff games in front of a smattering of fans. The Bills have not yet announced its specific plans for 2021, but the Buffalo News reported that the team is planning to re-open at full capacity and announced an increase in ticket prices.