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If Bills go before 2020, owner could go to jail

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The monopoly that is the NFL has something very tangible in common with the game of the same name.

In Buffalo, the Bills lease contains a provision that could result in a future owner going to jail.  In theory.

As explained by the Buffalo News, the team’s lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium includes a non-relocation agreement that allows the county or the state to obtain a court order blocking a move before the narrow window to relocate opens after the 2019 season.  If a court order blocking a move is granted and if the team’s owner tries to move despite the order, the owner could be jailed for contempt of court.

It would never get to that.  The NFL wouldn’t approve a move of the franchise if doing so would violate the team’s lease.

As the Buffalo News points out, a $28.4 million escape clause still applies in 2020.  It means the team definitely will remain in Buffalo for at least six more years.

Which buys the powers-that-be well over 2,020 days to come up with a way to persuade the next owner to choose to not to, come 2020, make like a tree and get out of Western New York.

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47 Responses to “If Bills go before 2020, owner could go to jail”
  1. bucrightoff says: Apr 13, 2014 11:50 AM

    I really hope that if the Bills do get sold to an owner who wants to move them, that the former AFL teams band together to block any vote to move them. LA or Toronto are front running, bandwagon towns who will never support a NFL team like the people of Buffalo.

  2. fitzmagic1212 says: Apr 13, 2014 11:51 AM

    this bills aren’t moving. so many local people with billions who have stated interests in this team.
    keep the team here = 1 billion
    try to move the team = 1 billion to buy them, 1 billion for a new stadium, relocation fees and you’re at 2.5 billion at least.

  3. justsomerandomguy24 says: Apr 13, 2014 11:53 AM

    Yeah… because billionaires go to jail all the time in this country…

  4. gmen32 says: Apr 13, 2014 11:54 AM

    The Bills will never end up in Toronto. Funny how things work out as many people in Toronto have ignored the Argonauts in the hope that the NFL will come to town. The reverse has happened as it now appears to the NFL that Toronto cannot support a professional football team. Looks like Toronto outsmarted itself. Both the CFL and NFL are great leagues. Leave things as they are.

  5. theparadoxx82 says: Apr 13, 2014 11:55 AM

    well SOMEONE has to make sure the Pats get an easy post-bye week game.

  6. wantcheesewityourwhine says: Apr 13, 2014 11:56 AM

    Inside track to LA!

  7. nygmann says: Apr 13, 2014 12:12 PM

    Buffalo Bills are a part of NFL history and lore. The Bills moving to LA or Toronto is like the Yankees or Red Sox moving to Salt Lake City. Leave the Bills where they are!

  8. alshonbrandontandem says: Apr 13, 2014 12:21 PM

    Stay in Buffalo – move the Jags if you want a team in LA. No ones cares about that team anyway.

  9. djshnooks says: Apr 13, 2014 12:40 PM

    Again, going nowhere.

    It may be a “Rust Belt” city to outsiders…but it’s a beautiful place called home to some wealthy and powerful individuals…where just an hour drive east down the thruway is a lake, that is among the most expensive lake-front properties in the country. Golisano lives out there. Danny Wegman lives out there. Kenny Chesney has a house there. Just saying…

    People around here have connections…and nobody wants to see that team be moved away from that community.

    That’s not even talking about Donald Trump, Jeremy Jacobs and Terry Pegula.

    And yes, Jacobs could own the Bills and keep the Bruins…look at Kroneke and his son owning the Rams and Avalanche. He also owns casinos, like Trump does…I know, I worked at a casino he owns here.

    So, long story kinda short…going nowhere.

  10. revren10 says: Apr 13, 2014 12:45 PM

    Bills need to stay EJ Manuel can turn into good quarterback and I love watching the pats bills rivalry. If EJ develops bills could become new power house once Brady retires

  11. billsfan1 says: Apr 13, 2014 12:47 PM

    Instead of moving any team, start a franchise in these cities

  12. supermanwearsbrownandorange says: Apr 13, 2014 12:47 PM

    Being a long time Browns fan…..long suffering indeed Browns fan, … I hope that loyal Bills fans never have to experience the crushing pain that Cleveland felt when our Browns were moved to Baltimore. The Bills belong to Buffalo and only Buffalo.

  13. The Almighty Cabbage says: Apr 13, 2014 12:56 PM

    The Bills leaving Buffalo would be a travesty. An absolute travesty. It would be like the Steelers leaving Pittsburgh or the Bears leaving Chicago. Just wrong.

    Thank goodness us “rubes that buy worthless stock” NEVER have to worry about the Pack leaving Green Bay.

  14. vekster1820 says: Apr 13, 2014 1:01 PM

    It makes more sense to move teams already in California like the Chsrgers or Raiders than moving a historical northeast team with a dedicated fan base. Plus both teams have leases that expire sooner than the Bills and they have yet to resolve stadium issues. Move the Chargers to LA and let the Raiders share the new 49’ers stadium.

  15. ranfan12 says: Apr 13, 2014 1:01 PM

    This coming from a league that basically calls itself a charity

  16. 1rockyracoon says: Apr 13, 2014 1:13 PM

    With all of the talk of tradition lets not forget the reason behind Wilson starting a franchise in Buffalo in the first place– the AFC wouldn’t allow him to start a team in Miami. He decided on Buffalo, his second choice, because he believed the town would support (give him money) the team. I would feel bad if the fans lost their team, but I fully understand why a new owner would want to relocate. Lets not forget that it has always been about money.

  17. thelastpieceofcheese says: Apr 13, 2014 1:15 PM

    Whether you like it or not:

    1.Forget about the provision, it’s unconstitutional.

    2.Money talks.

    3.Bills are gone

  18. alongthegulf says: Apr 13, 2014 1:15 PM

    It nice seeing these Bills fans standing up for their franchise. How many of you actually buy season tickets or attend games? It’s going to take more than just civic pride. It’s going to take boosting attendance to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Same can be said for keeping the Jags in Jacksonville. Actual attendance and merchandise sales speaks volumes for owners and/or potential owners.

  19. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 13, 2014 1:16 PM

    It’s still not impossible, just a mountain of hurdles and some impracticality but that’s only the case if one can’t figure out how to tone down the level of impracticality of trying to make that move before 2020.

    Where there’s wills there’s a way to have no Bills.

  20. tb12eatitbitches says: Apr 13, 2014 1:31 PM

    Sorry to say they’re as good as gone, if its Toronto (big mistake), London or LA its happening. These fans have 6 years left of the nfl, no owner is paying 500mil to get out of this lease but who knows

  21. icar6 says: Apr 13, 2014 1:39 PM

    It’s been years since Buffalo has had the full allotment of 8 home games. If you can’t afford to play your home games in your home city then you have to move.

  22. i10east says: Apr 13, 2014 1:46 PM

    Some kinda way, this his something to do with Jacksonville, right rubes?

  23. timmons94 says: Apr 13, 2014 1:51 PM

    That is harsh. Sending someone to Cleveland is extreme punishment

  24. ctgiant says: Apr 13, 2014 2:00 PM

    I think back of Jim Kelly, Thurmon, Reid, and 4 championships!
    It can happen again, and if the Bills continue to add good players, EJ Manual develops, the Pats would be playing from behind, Jets & Miami both
    not funtional in there front office.
    As a giants fan, Jim kelly and his team dam near got there 1st super-bowl, within 2 feet, no this team stays put!
    CT GIANT

  25. edavidberg says: Apr 13, 2014 2:02 PM

    The NFL needs to find a permanent home for the Bills franchise. Stringing it out is ridiculous.

  26. fordmandalay says: Apr 13, 2014 2:14 PM

    Yeah, a billionaire team owner going to jail. Like that would ever happen.

  27. kamthechancellor says: Apr 13, 2014 2:26 PM

    This new Goodell era in the NFL sure does suck. Everything is a damn money grab without regard to the fans that love this game and have been true to it all their lives.

  28. wtfchiefs says: Apr 13, 2014 2:32 PM

    The immensely rich don’t go to jail in America.

  29. johnnyquick says: Apr 13, 2014 2:46 PM

    Has anybody noticed that not a single Bills player had complained about the move? Seems like they want to move too.

  30. charmcitychampions says: Apr 13, 2014 3:05 PM

    What Judge on earth is going to force a business to operate in a specific city? If a businessman wants to move his business, he is always allowed to. If he signed a lease, he will need to honor the lease or pay damages to the leaseholder to get out of it.

    Buffalo is a dead city and despite the very nice people there, there is no good reason to keep a team there unless you feel it is the best possible area for your team to make money.

    If Baltimore loses their team to another city with higher fan demand and a better deal….that’s just business. It has happened to us before. It will happen to other cities in the future.

  31. mtntexas says: Apr 13, 2014 3:34 PM

    We’ll GIVE you the Dallas Cowboys IF , and only IF… you’ll put Jerry Jones in jail.

  32. Obama's Ballsack says: Apr 13, 2014 3:47 PM

    Nobody cares what happen to the Bills. This team is straight up trash.

  33. pastabelly says: Apr 13, 2014 4:00 PM

    Let’s not go overboard by comparing them to most legendary teams in sports. That’s silly. They’re a small market franchise that’s struggling a bit.

  34. soldierone says: Apr 13, 2014 4:16 PM

    If they do move, it will be no surprise. sports leagues are in the business of screwing over cities. The city with the higher bid gets the team, no matter how much it crumbles the smaller city.

  35. gpclaw says: Apr 13, 2014 4:16 PM

    Easy solution. The new owner doesn’t have to move the Bills. He can move the team that was formally named the Bills to a new city, and start a whole new franchise under a different name.

  36. musicman495 says: Apr 13, 2014 4:53 PM

    No team was more a part of NFL history since 1950 than the Cleveland Browns, and no city had a more passionate fan base. Which mattered exactly 0 when they moved to Baltimore. Anyone who thinks a piece of paper or even the other 31 NFL owners can prevent an NFL owner in Buffalo or anywhere else from moving where he wants to move has been asleep the last 25 years.

  37. abillsfan11 says: Apr 13, 2014 5:01 PM

    Teams with tarps covering the stands cann’t sell out yet a team who has not made the playoffs in 14 years still has a passionate fan base this teams not going anywhere

  38. mackcarrington says: Apr 13, 2014 5:43 PM

    Why is there even any talk of the Bills leaving Buffalo? They sell out all their games. They have an ironclad stadium lease. They are renovating the stadium and are talking about building a new one. Why is the media generating all this talk of the Bills leaving? This is totally irrational to me.

  39. briang123 says: Apr 13, 2014 7:01 PM

    What a stretch in the story just to get the headline you wanted.

  40. ravensbob says: Apr 13, 2014 7:23 PM

    They are going to move. The league should just compensate the city of Buffalo now and get on with wherever they move them.

  41. the8man says: Apr 13, 2014 8:11 PM

    The Bills belong in Buffalo. The name Redskins belongs in Washington, D.C.

    Yes. Because that’s the way its always been.

    Don’t screw with Tradition.

  42. campcouch says: Apr 13, 2014 8:58 PM

    This kind of talk is generated by LA and NYC media. Just like baseball and basketball,when one of those towns want a player or franchise,they start these stories in a attempt to gain traction. LA,the second largest media market has lost TWO pro football teams and hasn’t shown interest for 19 years. They’re frontrunners on success. USC had a few down years,they jumped ship to UCLA,The Lakers are struggling,they jumped ship to the Clippers,The Dodgers struggled,the swam to the Angels and even forced a name change. No,the Bills aren’t moving. If the same product shows up in LA,after the one year honeymoon,the stadium would be empty.

  43. mackcarrington says: Apr 13, 2014 9:23 PM

    @campcouch:
    You obviously don’t live in LA and don’t have even the slightest clue about the sports in LA.
    USC alumni and fans don’t “jump ship” to UCLA. Hardcore Laker fans don’t “jump ship” to become Clipper fans. Longtime Dodger fans haven’t “swam” to the Angels and the fans had nothing to do with them becoming The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Your post is ludicrous and only exposes your total and complete ignorance of the Southern Cali sports scene.

  44. piis314 says: Apr 13, 2014 10:42 PM

    If they do leave, NY won’t have any NFL franchise. NJ already boasts two, so it’d be surprising to see CA grab even more and leave NY with nothing.

  45. derek4dolphins says: Apr 13, 2014 11:14 PM

    You know..? I don’t get it. I read this piece with Buffalo fans blaming the NFL and rich people. That’s a bunch of crap. When you buy a home, do you allow anyone to tell you who you invite inside..? If you buy a boat, are you going to allow someone to tell you where you can use it..? Whomever buys the Bills… OWNS them. If you want to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo it’s INCREDIBLY simple. Vote for politicians who will allocate the funds to build a new stadium. OR at the VERY LEAST, bring the one you have out of the 1970’s and 80’s into the 21st century… I’ve been to Ralf Wilson… It’s a dump. There is no reason the owner should keep a team in a city that will not step up to the plate and provide a world class venue (or at LEAST a USA Class venue) for one of the most desired products there is. The politicians in Florida are already working on legislation to completely remodel “Sun Life” Stadium. They OPENED Sun Life in 1986 and this will be the 3RD remodel while you team has only done minor upgrades in 40 years. The Jests have new digs, so do the Patsy’s, 49’ers, Cardinals, Bucks, Cowboys, Steelers, Philly, Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Denver & Seattle. And they have completely reworked Miami (in 2001) New Orleans, Chicago, Cincy & Lambaeu. And Minnesota will have a new joint in a few years. Teams like Oakland, St. Louis, San Diego and Buffalo are all on thin ice with their franchises because there is no reciprocation in TANGIBLE loyalty. AKA A New Stadium or completely remodeled effort… …. Want to keep you team..? Lip service about fan loyalties and “historic president” is just that… “LIP SERVICE”…. You have a City that has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel…. Moving the Bills “at this point” isn’t anything to do with greedy NFL or owners”… It’s just good business… Buffalo has EVERY OPPORTUNITY to turn that around in the next several years… do you want your team to stay put..? Make certain the way you vote matches what you want… If you don’t… They’ll be gone and rightfully so.

  46. jpherling says: Apr 14, 2014 8:12 AM

    nygmann: The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York (baseball) Giants were part of baseball’s lore, but that didn’t stop their owners from moving the teams to California.

  47. dawgpound4ever says: Apr 15, 2014 7:48 AM

    I bleed Orange and Brown. I am a long-suffering and life-long Browns fan. Aside from the near misses of two AFC Championship game losses to the Denver Broncos, there is no greater pain than having your beloved team ripped from your home in the cover of darkness. No one could have ever predicted that the NFL would ever allow a team to be moved from such a loyal and passionate fan base.

    If the NFL was willing to allow the Colts to leave Baltimore for Indy and the Browns to Baltimore (a four-year gap of no Browns) to be renamed the Ravens, it could happen to ANY team. BTW: Keeping the name, former titles and history is small victory. However, seeing the Ravens win two Superbowls is only reopening old wounds.

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