On Monday night, the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills announced a partnership with Pittsburgh-based Highmark, Inc. for the naming rights of its stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
— Highmark Stadium (@BillsStadium) March 29, 2021
The 48-year-old stadium located in Orchard Park originally was called Rich Stadium. It changed names to Ralph Wilson Stadium from 1998 to 2015 before New Era bought naming rights for seven years and $35 million in 2016.
But the struggling hat manufacturer requested a release from its naming rights and sponsorship deal last summer, and the team played last season in Bills Stadium.
This announcement caused a bit of a stir among Pittsburgh soccer fans and those who’ve come to know the original facility named Highmark Stadium located in Pittsburgh which has served as Western Pennsylvania’s soccer mecca and home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
Despite some of the initial commotion, this announcement may actually be a good jolt of publicity for the second-division Riverhounds SC as Highmark Inc. now positions itself with a high-profile marketing endeavor to grow its brand, especially in a region, Western New York, where it has expanded services.
The eight-year old soccer stadium, located on the grounds of Station Square, is now completely owned and operated by the Riverhounds SC. In 2019, Hounds owner Tuffy Shallenberger announced that he bought the land where the stadium was occupied.
“We owned the stadium, but they owned the dirt,” Shallenberger said. “We basically just bought the dirt.”
The $8 million transaction by Shallenberger Properties LLC put the stadium under his full ownership, a deal he said would allow for future upgrades.
The Riverhounds SC have a strong partnership with Highmark and its medical subsidiary, Allegheny Health Network. The Hounds’ primary uniform sponsor since 2015, Allegheny Health Network and the Hounds have also formed a partnership in building a new training facility and soccer complex in partnership with Friends of Pittsburgh Soccer.
Here’s a few samples of reaction after the announcement came down on Monday night.
— Highmark Stadium (@highmarkstadium) March 30, 2021
Do we have to start putting ourselves through tables during the tailgates?
Because… maybe not completely opposed. https://t.co/4ImUBhfOHR
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) March 29, 2021
— Evan SHOOOOP (@shooooop2015) March 30, 2021
— Aidan McGinnis (@Aid_McGinnis2) March 30, 2021
What will the original Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh think? pic.twitter.com/9rQqFLgEWb
— Theo “Not a Cat” Collins (@theoacollins) March 29, 2021
This is the Highmark Stadium I think of when I hear that name. pic.twitter.com/lKZaCsw6Ws
— DMV (@theDMVguy001) March 30, 2021
So the Bills have ripped off the Pittsburgh Riverhounds
I see how it is 😂 https://t.co/5VNM2LVnpl
— Freddy Harper-Davis (@freddyharperdav) March 29, 2021
But there’s already a Highnark Stadium in Pittsburgh https://t.co/IUbqekeC55
— Matt Ralph (@MattRalph_tBG) March 30, 2021
— Col. Leslie "Hap" Hapablap (@ColHapablap) March 30, 2021
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) March 29, 2021