Mary Wilson named controlling owner of Bills

The death of Ralph Wilson has created uncertainty about the future of the Bills in Buffalo, but the team will be conducting business as usual until and if the team is sold.

That was the message from the team on Thursday when they announced that Wilson’s widow Mary will take over as the controlling owner of the team with her husband’s death.

“I have complete confidence in Russ Brandon, our President and CEO, to continue his duties of running the organization. General Manager Doug Whaley and Head Coach Doug Marrone remain empowered by Russ to run the football operation,” Mary Wilson said in an announcement from the team.

Selling the team is still in the plans, however. The team also announced that a process will be established regarding the sale of the franchise “at the appropriate time” and that the process will be “faithful to NFL rules and to its obligations to New York State and Erie County.”

A window to move the Bills opens after the 2019 season when the buyout to leave Ralph Wilson Stadium drops to $28.4 million. A move would be impractical if not impossible before that point and it seems likely that the Bills will have different ownership by the time that date rolls around.

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25 responses to “Mary Wilson named controlling owner of Bills

  1. Great news for the Bills. They want the team sold by next years owners meetings. Looks like it’s a certainty that Bills remain in Buffalo.

  2. Statement of Stability…….Good for Bills and their fans. Hopefully for you all, Mary is committed to seeing her husband’s legacy remain in Buffalo and steadfastly ensures the sale/transfer of the team is done with that goal in mind.

    Good Luck Bills and R.I.P. Ralph.

  3. Even if it has to involve Donald Trump, I hope there’s a group that can keep the Bills in Buffalo.

  4. That’s awesome that the Bills avoided having anything like the LA Dodgers divorce hysteria.

    Serious (although tangentially related question), in light of the Isray situation, if she were (and she seems nice – I don’t know anything about her) if she got a DUI or something or something came up in light of the estate probate or something, would she be subject to league discipline?

  5. Trump doesn’t have the money, nor do the rest of the owners have the stomach for his highly public persona. Trump went bankrupt twice. No team will go to London. Just the travel alone would make it a no go.

  6. “I have complete confidence in Russ Brandon, our President and CEO, to continue his duties of running the organization”—-

    Yea he’s been doing such a great job.

  7. Cant be too surprised here.

    Rumblings are that there are stipulations not made public yet that when the Bills are sold the terms of ownership will include clauses essentially prohibitory for relocation, and that all agreements will be made with an agenda to ensure the Bills long term tenure in Buffalo.

    Here’s to hoping that is accurate!

  8. I just registered to get on the comment section because of this bills future speculation. I have been a Bills/nfl fan for 40yrs. for all of the people that think the bills staying in buffalo is pipe dream, I say, as long as the MONEY is in the ball park of what other owners are willing to swallow, then the bills will stay. bills fans should be careful not to kid themselves into thinking this process is not going to take a little arm twisting. the fact of the matter is a place like L.A could generate umpteen more dollars than the western n.y vicinity. the potential ownership group has a few things in their favor as of 3/04/2014. a commish from the western n.y area, senior owners that seem to want tradition to be a factor in a franchise moving and being in the same state as the “capital of the world”.with the wealth of n.y.c close by there is a good chance a “trump like individual” will be more than happy to take on ownership of the bills. all that and a little luck because although the ralph is a GREAT place to watch a game (for people that have never seen a game at orchard park, the sight lines are really terrific, almost not a bad seat in the house that’s why buffalo fans love the place) the new stadium issue is to me the 400 lb gorilla in the room.

  9. Long time Bills fan and lifetime western new yorker. B Thomas Golisano, former owner of the Sabres, CEO/Founder of Paychex Inc. and local Billionaire will buy the Bills. I fully believe this is why he sold the Sabres a few years back. Tom’s name is on just about everything around at this point…major University buildings, world renowned Golisano Children’s hospital a state of the art computer science facility at RIT. Tom is from Rochester NY (60 miles east), went to State School in Alfred NY, and built his business here. While he lives just enough days in Florida a year to get away from NY taxes, he is committed to a legacy in Western NY. What a better way that to purchase the heart and soul of the area. The Bills. I’m surprised PFT doesn’t know of Mr. Golisano. Trump…Trump is a joke…

  10. This is definitely good news. That the franchise was passed to Mrs. Wilson has one very, very important aspect: estate taxes. It has never been so much that the Wilson family has no interest in keeping the Bills. The reason they need to sell the Bills is because they can’t afford the Bills. The Wilson family is by no means poor but they are not hugely wealth like the Hunts or the Krafts either. The vast majority of the family’s net worth IS the Buffalo Bills. The only way his children can pay the $300+ million estate tax for their inheritance is by selling the team.

    With Mr. Wilson leaving the team to Mary, this means the children do not need to pay that huge inheritance tax until Mary dies. They will still sell the team but this has bought them many, many years to find the right situation. They won’t have the IRS breathing down their neck looking for their cut of the Wilson family fortune. Mary is no spring chicken but certainly young enough to qualify as a “trophy wife” for 95-year-old Ralph Wilson. This gives the family years, perhaps a decade or two if needed, to find a new owner or group of owners committed to keeping the Bills where they belong and Ralph’s legacy intact.

    They shouldn’t have to look far. There are quite a few billionaires in Buffalo with enough ties to Buffalo to not want to see the team leave and witness the havoc it would cause with the local economy. B. Thomas Galisano, mentioned above, is the least wealthy of them (and honestly the worst option for fans as he is a PURELY profit driven individual.) Terry Pegula is the most likely option as he is by far the wealthiest potential suitor and smart enough to realize that if the Bills leave and the local economy crashes as a result, that would have a serious negative impact on his Buffalo Sabres’ season ticket sales.

    Of course the State of New York has some serious skin in this game, too. The Bills are the only “New York” team that actually plays in New York and represent a significant cash cow for the state. The sales tax on ticket sales alone is somewhere around $4.9m per year in revenue for New York State. You think Cuomo & Co. in Albany are just gonna let them leave without a fight?

    The bottom line in all of this is that despite all the hoopla, when you look at everything involved the Buffalo Bills are very UNlikely to leave Buffalo and Ralph leaving the team to Mary instead of his kids buys a lot of time and makes it that much more unlikely that they get sold to someone with the interest or ability to move them out of town.

  11. @sabernation81, I definitely agree with you on the subject of mr galisano. any port in a storm is welcome but I`d have my doubts with him as an owner. besides, he`s small potatoes in the potential pool of buyers.

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