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Window opens for Bills to move after 2019 season

Ralph Wilson Stadium Getty Images

The passing of Ralph Wilson Jr. plunges the Bills franchise into uncertainty.  But the uncertainty can’t become a certain move for at least six seasons.

Regardless of whether a buyout clause exists in the current lease before then, the price for moving the team plunges to $28.4 million after the 2019 season.  That’s the sweet spot for a potentially bitter pill the team’s current stadium lease.

Before then, it either would be impossible or impractical to move the team.  After then, only three seasons will pass before the lease expires, assume the $28.4 million fee isn’t paid.

The end result is that the Bills will spend the next six or nine seasons in Buffalo.  Beyond that, no guarantees exist.

Beyond that, the Wilson family will determine the fate of the franchise when selecting a buyer and structuring a purchase agreement.  They can, for example, take less money to ensure that Buffalo interests will buy the team and hold the team, with contractual clauses preventing a sale or relocation, or making either ridiculously expensive.  Or the Wilson family can simply sell the team to the highest bidder, even if the highest bidder fully intends to take the team to a new market in 2020 or 2023.

Until the Wilson family or a new buyer provides Buffalo fans with certainty, there will be none.  Beyond, that is, the team remaining in Buffalo for the next six or nine seasons.

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56 Responses to “Window opens for Bills to move after 2019 season”
  1. plum13sec says: Mar 27, 2014 11:19 PM

    The writing is on the wall

  2. sketchydave says: Mar 27, 2014 11:21 PM

    Mike it seems you want the bills to move more than anyone ever. What’s the deal man? Seriously. Mid upper middle pack of tv views, stadium is always packed, packers are a small market. C’mon man.

    -season ticket holder

  3. rightwingguy says: Mar 27, 2014 11:22 PM

    Who cares. The bills haven’t been relevant since Jim Kelly was the qb.

  4. Frazier28/7 says: Mar 27, 2014 11:23 PM

    Go blank urself LA.

    Signed.
    – Viking fans looking out for buffalo bills fans everywhere.

  5. chawk12thman says: Mar 27, 2014 11:25 PM

    I suspect that the family would not take significantly less just to keep the team in the area…….This is a business as we all know. Money is the true driver, here. Good Luck Bill Fans.

  6. jpaq68 says: Mar 27, 2014 11:25 PM

    48 home games left at “The Ralph” until the Bills move to Los Angeles

  7. Hugh Jass says: Mar 27, 2014 11:25 PM

    2016: The Los Angeles Bills

  8. jimmypx says: Mar 27, 2014 11:28 PM

    As Ralph Wilson said, “An NFL team isn’t a car dealership that you can buy and just move anywhere. A team belongs to it’s fans and the Bills belong to Buffalo”.
    I couldn’t say it better myself. If the NFL turns its back on the Bills fans solely for greed then Mark Cuban was right.

  9. buffalodiehard says: Mar 27, 2014 11:29 PM

    *Pukes

  10. mrfrostyj says: Mar 27, 2014 11:30 PM

    Football belongs in Buffalo. Just like it belonged in Baltimore and Cleveland. If the Wilsons decide to sell they need to do the right thing and do like former Browns owner Randy Lerner did. The team MUST stay in Buffalo or the sale is null and void.

  11. tampabucks05 says: Mar 27, 2014 11:31 PM

    Man that sucks, I feel bad for you diehards in Buffalo…. IDK what I’d do without the Bucs in town….

  12. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 27, 2014 11:42 PM

    If the window is left open they will fly the coop.

  13. sumkat says: Mar 27, 2014 11:59 PM

    I don’t know what you would be thinking to sell an NFL franchise. It’s bottomless profits. I honestly can’t think of any other business that would be better to be in than owning an NFL franchise

  14. m3dman3 says: Mar 28, 2014 12:03 AM

    I can’t wait to keep watching the Buffalo Bills for the rest of my life in Buffalo and I’m 28 years old.

  15. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 28, 2014 12:06 AM

    Borrrring.

    It would have been much more fun if they had a win total requirement that dictated the buyout number. Win or go away, your existence is on the line now.

    There will be bills blood, or Bills blood.

  16. staffordsyear says: Mar 28, 2014 12:24 AM

    Keep them in Buffalo, they belong there.

  17. kwickett85 says: Mar 28, 2014 12:25 AM

    The Bills won’t be going anywhere. There are quite a few groups of people in a position to buy the team and keep them in Buffalo. There is already a committee in place that is deciding to either build a new stadium or make a huge renovation to the current one.

  18. sportswright says: Mar 28, 2014 12:27 AM

    This will be interesting. I hope they keep the team in Buffalo, I assume Ralph wanted that may he rest in peace.

  19. drwbrsdmndsnxplntn says: Mar 28, 2014 12:27 AM

    My thoughts are with the Bills franchise in this difficult time. The last thing you need to worry about is losing your team. As a Vikings fan we just went through this and it takes a toll on you, but in the end it will only make you stronger. Im assuming the Bills, much like any Northern team in the winter, draws its community pride from the NFL, in that it, like no other thing, brings families, and communities together for just a few hours every Sunday in perfect harmony. Lest we bicker about politics or religion or pop-culture. And as a fan of a franchise that is also 0-4 in the Super Bowl, it makes you a stronger fan and strengthens your loyalty, as there is nothing like football to unite 2 strangers regardless of age, gender, social class, race under one common human experience. Football. Much respect to the Buffalo Bills, and if you guys turn out in numbers you have a good chance of keeping your club.

  20. billybone says: Mar 28, 2014 12:30 AM

    I’m a Hawks fan so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I hope the Bills stay put. They have an incredible fan base that deserve to keep their team.

  21. truebuffalo says: Mar 28, 2014 12:30 AM

    The NFL needs to let us (eire county) buy the Bills like Green Bay. Every Western New Yorker would gladly pay out of their hard earned pay checks. Please make another exception for Ralph Wilson’s sake, this is what he would want for Buffalo and the League. As far as I’m concerned the NFL owes it to Ralph to keep our team here forever.

  22. billsfan66 says: Mar 28, 2014 12:30 AM

    It is apparent Mr. Wilson begat what may be his greatest gift to Buffalo. For years he was villified that he did nothing to prepare for when he passed away and what the future of team would be. The sly fox did what he could and it appears that is keeping the team in Buffalo after his death.

    Say what you want about our city, but we can and will support this NFL franchise. We are a motivated community who will do what it takes to keep our beloved Bills in Buffalo. Do not assume that we can not support the team. Do not assume we can’t afford the eventual increase in ticket prices with a newly built stadium, we can and we will.

    Thank you Mr. Wilson for proving your loyalty to Buffalo and know that you are loved for what you did for the city and the amazing charitable acts you did. Mr. Wilson is on record for donating a considerable amount of money to charities and individuals in need. That amount is dwarfed by the amount of money he donated behind the scenes and the lives he touched.

    Thank you Mr. Wilson. Thank you.

  23. robreg22 says: Mar 28, 2014 12:36 AM

    That’s gonna be a sad, sad day for the football world

  24. jeffreyshulenburg says: Mar 28, 2014 12:54 AM

    Anyone who tries to move this team faces an entire city of people with pitchforks who have had their ass handed to them by life for the past 30 years and you would be taking one of the last hopes and joys away from them. There are football cities, Buffalo is one of them.

    I think the reaction would be somewhat similar to saying the Red Sox are moving to portland…not pretty

  25. tolan04 says: Mar 28, 2014 1:08 AM

    Toronto doesn’t deserve a nfl team after a pathetic showing the past few years on the Rogers centre. Bills belong in buffalo. I’m curious if terry pegula is interested at all.

  26. stl333 says: Mar 28, 2014 1:29 AM

    Toronto wants the Bills.

  27. oldcracker says: Mar 28, 2014 2:03 AM

    A sad sign of changing times.

    Lawn mowing, shopping, BBQ’s and maybe a movie on Saturday; church followed by fried chicken, baseball/football, and 6-packs of soda & beer on Sunday made up the weekend distraction for the blue-collar middle-class suburbanites of post war (WW II) America. Before 1980, cities and towns like Buffalo were the very backbone and the tax-paying industrial base of America.

    Now, while towns like Buffalo and our tax base shrink, overseas the many municipalities that stole the industrial base, ignore copyrights & patents, ignore safety & health issues, attack the planet, and use prison/slave labor to build their military might and wage “cyber” war on us while we fight amongst ourselves for whatever crumbs that are left.

    And today, a handful of eliteist billionaire owners talk of putting something as “American” as American Football overseas while the fans of teams like the Bills are simply forgotten, like their jobs. Buffalo today, Oakland tomorrow? Twin cities? Cleveland? Atlanta?

  28. trevor123698 says: Mar 28, 2014 2:22 AM

    my money says they move..buffalo is screwed economically. their entire economy is prisons from nyc offenders

  29. seadawgs72 says: Mar 28, 2014 3:08 AM

    I personally hate to see teams relocate. I’m not a Bills fan (not a hater either) but there’s so much history & so many great players that have come thru Buffalo. It’s like saying Earl Campbell was a Titan. I still remember Campbell literally having his jersey torn pdf his body as an Oiler. For those of you too young to have seen that check it out on YouTube. I’m a huge Seahawk fan but beast mode has nothing on that Earl Campbell rum. When teams move all that history & nostalgia is robbed from the true football fans not mention all the broken hearts & wasted years of loving your team just so they can move to some random city where the owner believes he can improve his profit margin. Could actually careless if he improves his win/loss margin.

  30. henryjones20 says: Mar 28, 2014 3:25 AM

    United States will be at civil war thanx 2 the tea party and other buffoons and their will be no NFL by 2019 so this is a non-story.

  31. joetoronto says: Mar 28, 2014 4:26 AM

    The deal has been done for some time now, I just hope they change the uniforms and name of the team altogether.

    That losing stench has to go.

  32. dabrownsrule says: Mar 28, 2014 5:28 AM

    Buffalo football belongs in Buffalo!!!

  33. watchfullhose says: Mar 28, 2014 6:40 AM

    Not a bills fan, but that would be awful.

    Thumbs down for moving the Bills

  34. chiadam says: Mar 28, 2014 6:49 AM

    I don’t think an owner in the NFL knows what “take less money” means.

  35. razzlejag says: Mar 28, 2014 6:56 AM

    LA can’t wait 6-9 years; the London-Jacksonville partnership looks strong, like the annual Jaguars game will be the “flagship” game with other team rotating through as a second (or 3rd and 4th) game.

    What cities are in line as second options? Austin maybe?

    Would love to see realignment to get the natural rivals Jacksonville, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Atlanta together in a division.

  36. evilglazers666 says: Mar 28, 2014 7:38 AM

    “As Ralph Wilson said, “An NFL team isn’t a car dealership that you can buy and just move anywhere. A team belongs to it’s fans and the Bills belong to Buffalo”.
    I couldn’t say it better myself. If the NFL turns its back on the Bills fans solely for greed then Mark Cuban was right.”

    This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. These guys are worse than congress…. The NFL has been getting worse and worse over the years with the ownership greed, but this is terrible. He JUST dies. He protected this franchise form them… NFL is going down hill fast…. Count this fan out.

  37. jimr10 says: Mar 28, 2014 7:38 AM

    Mark Cuban… there may be an NFL team you can buy…. then you can help the implosion.

  38. ihateravens says: Mar 28, 2014 7:38 AM

    First thing they need to do is change the name of this team. Just because most of the fans receive bills in the mail doesn’t mean the team should be named after the mail they get.

    Why not name them the Buffalo Bisons unless PETA has a problem with that.

  39. jimmyjoejohnbob says: Mar 28, 2014 7:41 AM

    The NFL will lose about 4 million fans if The Bills ever leave the area.

  40. dfwhawkguy says: Mar 28, 2014 7:41 AM

    Great timeframe to hold the team’s long term viability in Buffalo over the voters’ heads until they can coerce a new publicly funded stadium.

  41. exboomer says: Mar 28, 2014 7:49 AM

    All these people saying the team will move are morons. Mary Wilson has already stated she won’t sell the team to anyone who wants to move it and she just inherited billions of dollars so she doesn’t need the money. She cares about the fans almost as much as her husband did even though she doesn’t want to run the team so she will keep her word.

  42. jnks10 says: Mar 28, 2014 7:59 AM

    If the bills move to LA where are they going to move to after LA fails for the 3rd time? That’s the real question.

  43. cascadeplus says: Mar 28, 2014 8:12 AM

    “The end result is that the Bills will spend the next six or nine seasons in Buffalo.” Ha ha 69

  44. bie2344 says: Mar 28, 2014 8:49 AM

    Thinking of this in a purely business sense, how New York state would let a major business walk away is beyond me. They will throw so many incentives, tax and otherwise, to get the Bills to stay in New York it would be crazy for them to leave. The Bills are the only NFL team that plays in New York and New York gets taxes from them (home game wise). LA will get a team at some point, even if they’ve shown they don’t really deserve it, but I dont think it will be the Bills. Having a NFL team in your backyard is just too big a business now to up and move a team, especially when it’s tied to the economic infrastructure of a community, like the Bills are to Buffalo.

  45. keepyerstickontheice says: Mar 28, 2014 8:52 AM

    Ralph was the only owner to vote against every single franchise relocation. It would be a crime against his memory to move the team.

    Also, +1 to what sketchydave said.

  46. moxicity says: Mar 28, 2014 8:54 AM

    It’s not a fee that is paid to buy-out of the lease it’s an amount related to damages. The actual contract is available online. There would have to be a lawsuit filed by the Bills new owner and if the courts cannot decide on the damages of the Bills moving, then the 400 mil is owed. It’s not a buy-out clause.

  47. iloveagoodnap says: Mar 28, 2014 9:04 AM

    joetoronto says:
    Mar 28, 2014 4:26 AM
    The deal has been done for some time now, I just hope they change the uniforms and name of the team altogether.

    That losing stench has to go
    ……………………
    Yes youre right, Toronto doesnt want that losing stench. Since the year 2000 their othe pro sports teams have epitomized winning and…

    Oh wait.

    This is pure speculation and its nothing we havent known to be true since the lease was signed 2 years ago. It’s also nothing Florio hasnt said a million times before. I dont know why, but he seems to be sadistically praying for a Bills move.

    Time will tell. Buffalo support groups need to step up to ensure they purchase the team. Nothing more, nothing less.

    End of story.

  48. colv says: Mar 28, 2014 9:08 AM

    Great fans in Buffalo. Baltimore and Cleveland fans understand what you will be going through over the next six years. Yes, it seems like a long time but, when the threat of a move, because of new ownership and the leagues strong desire to put not only one team but two teams in LA, time will pass quick and the fans will be jerked around endlessly. . LA, a failed market multiple times.

    We were devastated by Irsay’s backstabbing midnight departure in the snow moving the Colts to Indy and the long delayed return via Cleveland. The NFL turned its backs to the Baltimore fans and we had to wait a decade and a half for a Cleveland team not an expansion team like it should have been. Being in the military for the last 30 years I suffered with my hometown fans waiting. When Cleveland moved I was devastated again because I know that the Cleveland fans are diehard great fans too. I didn’t follow the Ravens very much at first thru 1996-99 because of this. Then I found out that the NFL said it would place a team in Cleveland in a couple of years-1999. I couldn’t believe it and I was upset on one hand and happy for the Cleveland fans with the other. Here now the NFL waited from 1983 to 1996 to agree to a team being placed back in Baltimore. Additionally, unlike the drunken Irsay’s, like father like son (druggie), the Ravens owner left the Browns trademark , colors and history for a new Cleveland team once the city built its new palace that the mayor and city councils rejected for years putting basketball and baseball new palaces first in the city. This is when I became a more argent fan of the Ravens and a greater respect for Art. The AFC North is a division of small market teams with great hard working blue collar fans unlike the AFC East where the Bills reside with NY, NE (Boston) and Miami, it’s a high powered attractive landing sites for players that like the big city life.

    I really hope an owner can be found that will keep the team in Buffalo and stick it to the commissioner. I think in the NFL fandom land shape there are tens of thousands of us rooting for Buffalo and it fans to keep their team.

  49. dragonfly99 says: Mar 28, 2014 10:02 AM

    I feel sorry for Bills fans. You know if the NFL can make more money in LA, Toronto, or London, Goodell will be all for it.

  50. Please Ban TheStrategyExpert From Posting says: Mar 28, 2014 10:03 AM

    trevor123698 says:
    Mar 28, 2014 2:22 AM
    my money says they move..buffalo is screwed economically. their entire economy is prisons from nyc offenders
    ………………..
    Ding ding ding!

    We have a winner for ingnorant misinformed moron of the day award!! Granted it’s not a great economy, but theyre not alone. Plenty of other NFL Cities struggle economically as well. The rest of your statment is so off base it’s not even worth crafting a detailed response, so I’ll just leave it at this: there’s 2 prisons within 50 miles. Like, you know, every other city in America.

  51. 2ruefan says: Mar 28, 2014 10:22 AM

    henryjones20 says: Mar 28, 2014 3:25 AM

    United States will be at civil war thanx 2 the tea party and other buffoons and their will be no NFL by 2019 so this is a non-story.
    ******************************
    Wow! Get me some of what YOU are smoking homey!

  52. ytownjoe says: Mar 28, 2014 10:53 AM

    My guess is that the Union Jack will by flying over Bills Home games in a few years while fans sing “God Save the Queen.”
    JAX will be in LA by then and Goddell wants a team in London. It’s all about increasing revenue in the NFL.
    Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.

  53. orcahawk says: Mar 28, 2014 11:23 AM

    It would be sad to see the Bills leave town. Hopefully a buyer will step up and do the right thing for Buffalo –

    However if relocation is in the cards I would really hope for another location other than LA or London. Every city deserves a team to love, and many are large enough to have a sustaining market.

    There needs to be expansion in the West, for many reasons. I’d love to see a team in Portland, or Vegas for instance…

  54. 315judman says: Mar 28, 2014 1:25 PM

    I will encourage any person who thinks the team will (or should) move to come to Orchard Park, NY on game day. It is an NFL experience that you won’t forget. It is not full of a-holes like you find in the Meadowlands, or in Philly. It is a pure NFL experience with a spirited (and spirit filled) crowd of rowdy folks who want nothing more than a good time.

    You will leave with an understanding of what that team means to that community. They must stay there.

  55. sirdrinksalot says: Mar 28, 2014 2:48 PM

    If the Bills ever leave Buffalo. You can guarantee the majority of Bills fans will just completely stop watching the NFL. This die hard will. Currently, the only Bills fans are left are die hards. There are no band wagon fans left after 14 years of no playoffs. We still fill the stadium close to every week. I only wish during this renovation, the Bills would take out 7,000 seats for the older folks that can’t make it to games can be guaranteed to watch the home games every week. I see all this horse**** about LA this and Toronto that but these panzy skirt wearing fans wouldn’t be in the stadium on Sunday after 3 years of no playoffs.

  56. bobnelsonjr says: Mar 29, 2014 9:16 AM

    If they have to move, they should move to Minneapolis. Some parts of the country have a need for real football.

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