Mailbag: Will the Buffalo Bills live and die with their beloved owner?

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What happens to the team now that Ralph Wilson has passed away? –J.Sommers


The passing of Ralph C. Wilson Jr is something that rocked not only Western New York, but the entire football world. A pioneer of the game and what it is today, his accolades speak for themselves. However, even while mourning the passing of the Bills Commander In Chief, things must go on at One Bills Drive.

I’m sure, like myself, many Bills fans are questioning the security of the Bills future in Buffalo with the departed Wilson. Maybe, at least some of these questions can be answered already.

As we all know, Ralph was not interested in selling or relocating the team and his family will not be taking ownership of the team. This means that the team will likely be sold, eventually, but this should be prolonged as the team is currently owned through a trust involving both the state and county.

As of last December the deal with the state of New York and Erie County is a 10 year lease where the Bills will continue to play at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It is a $271 million deal including a provision that locks the Bills in Orchard Park for the next seven seasons. This provision makes the Bills franchise $400 million accountable if they are to leave before 2020, with the option of the final three years of the lease to be bought for $28 million.

I have heard big names such as Jim Kelly and even Jon Bon Jovi have expressed interest in buying the team. Bon Jovi’s publicist has openly stated that the singer has never engaged the Bills with any particular interest, although he has a general interest in “owning an NFL team one day.”

So we can breathe a sigh of relief, as a rich man from the disgruntled football state of New Jersey shouldn’t be taking the reigns of our team anytime soon.

When it comes to Kelly, the recent resurfacing of his cancer will take a much higher precedent than any of his financial plans, and we all hope that Big Jimmy fights through just as hard as he did before. The latest words we have from Kelly on purchasing the team are rather promising though:

“It’s in limbo, because Mr. Wilson is still the owner of the Bills. He’s still alive and kicking, thank God. He’s a guy who’s had that franchise for over 50 years, and he’s had people come to him wanting to buy it and move it somewhere else. But he’s been loyal to Western New York, and if that day comes when he decides, ‘It’s time for me to relinquish the ownership,’ then I do have people in line that will want to purchase the team and keep it in Western New York because I do not entertain any offers from anybody looking to move the Buffalo Bills from Western New York. I just won’t do it. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them in Buffalo.”

Right now Jimbo, we’ll take your word for it.


 

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