Report: Bills could have new owner by October


When Bills owner Ralph Wilson died last week, it initially was suggested that a sale by the Wilson family may not happen for a while.  Now comes word that it could happen this year.

According to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, efforts to sell the team have landed on the proverbial fast track.  A deal could be negotiated — and a new buyer could be approved — by the time the league’s owners gather in October.

Graham explains that it’s more likely approval would happen by December 2014 or March 2015.

Much needs to be done before such a valuable asset can change hands.  The potential speed of a sale invites strong speculation that a buyer already has been identified — and that the buyer is believed to be someone at least 24 owners would be willing to welcome to a very exclusive affiliation of millionaires and billionaires.

A quick sale would make it hard for current ownership to tie the hands of a new owner by agreeing to a stadium deal that keeps the team in place for, say, 20 or 30 years.  Ultimately, the question becomes whether new principal owner Mary Wilson wants to maximize her return by selling to the highest bidder, even if that bidder would soon bid adieu to Western New York.

88 responses to “Report: Bills could have new owner by October

  1. Why didn’t Mr Wilson just sell his team under his watch to his chosen buyer under his terms. Not mad at man about it but just curious why he didn’t want to choose his teams future.

  2. Ralph Wilson was content to maximize profit without moving the team. But it’s never been a secret that when he passed, it would be going to the highest bidder regardless of location. A team tied to Buffalo is worth less.

  3. Let’s hope the NFL spends a few more minutes vetting the Bill’s new owner than the did when they considered Jimmy Haslam’s candidacy. The NFL doesn’t need another team representing the Federal Penitentiary.

  4. The Vikings don’t need a new fan base. The fans they have now are delusional, a requirement of being a Vikes fan.

  5. “A team tied to Buffalo is worthless”?? But a team tied to L.A with no fan base makes a ton of sense! The NFL has gotten along just fine without a team in L.A; if they did move to L.A. it would be just like the Dolphins, horrible fan base due to “so much to do in the area”.

  6. I believe this is all good news for Buffalo. Mary has ties to the area with many community activities she is involved in. A new owner would be tied to WNY for the next six years, and this means the team would be less attractive to someone wanting to move to LA, which will likely have a team before then. This is different than the previously announced sale be a trust, which sounds far less personal. All good news for fans in Buffalo.

  7. Cjnbsc: I hear you, but you don’t actually know that. It could be similar to a player saying “there will be no home town discount,” because if you announce it, they will low ball you. So the Wilson’s would have been foolish to say anything else ahead of time.

  8. Long term employees of the team should start now to acquire a taste for Stout and also fish and chips. Tell me that Roger, wouldn’t put it on the fast track if he could at last have his team in Old Blighty.

  9. Ralph bought the team for $25,000.00. It is currently worth close to $900,000,000.00. If he sold the team, he’d have to pay capital gains tax on $899,975,000.00 (~$359 Million). Money that would go to the government as opposed to his family, friends, trusts, charities, etc upon his death.

    Once he died, the tax “basis” of his team is automatically adjusted to the current value of the asset. Accordingly, if his wife or estate sells the team now, they will essentially pay $0 in capital gains tax

    I’m betting that played a role in his decision not to sell the team

  10. I don’t believe Trump will consummate a purchase of the Bills. Trump is about self promotion and property. The alleged L.A. consortium will be the fast track purchaser. If no one else gets serious, Toronto may make a late March purchase.

    Remember, the Bills come with an automatic 28 million dollar penalty for moving the team anywhere. I have no idea about inheritance taxes in New York. Mrs. Wilson may not have to pay this tax. A death tax could make the sale more urgent.

  11. YAY a brand new billionaire who’ll try to hold up the city by threatening to move the team to L.A. unless they build him a free new stadium using taxpayer money.

  12. Chris Berman should be part of the ownership group of businessmen circling the wagons to keep the Bills in Buffalo. His love for the team is self evident, even though he has to appear unbiased on ESPN. It was not an accident that Ralph Wilson Jr wanted Chris to give his introductory speech to the Hall of Fame. Chris Berman is a true Bills fan and who would be better to help invigorate passion for the Bills.

  13. It seems that in the short term the whoever winds up owning the team will need to reassure the fan base and other owners that they would like to keep the team in Buffalo.

    They need to make an effort to show that they can keep this time viable in their current market before hinting at relocation

  14. Its too bad Ralph didn’t sell them he could have sold them on his terms and kept them in Buffalo.

    Buffalo may lose their team because of his legendary stubborness.

  15. Donald Trump cannot be a part of ownership of the Bills. He would have to sell his casinos first. I doubt he would ever do that.

  16. It is a sad reality in the business of football that respect for those that paved the way (like Wilson) falls far behind the desire to hold the gazillions that are out there for team owners now. Greed will ultimately move the Bills out of town, if not now then soon. Sad times for the fans…..

  17. The owners will approve a new owner who will make the team thus the league the most money. If new owner can show owners way to make money buy staying in Buffalo that’s great but if they can see more $$ elsewhere they will back a new owner who will move the team. It’s all about the $$ and always will be.

  18. Good god if Trump buys the team, he’ll kill the Bill’s & Buffalo name and call the team the NY Trumps…

    The only positive is the HBO Hard Knocks will have Trump not cutting guys but.., You’re Fired!!!

  19. Speaking as a Pats fan I hope they stay put. They are the true New York team in the Boston New York rivalry. While the have been pretty much an automatic 2 wins lately, I have enjoyed their competition in the past.

  20. Do they have any decent players? Maybe the jets could just absorb them and field a team that isnt considered a circus.

  21. Buffalo although a small market was the 11th strongest TV ratings in the league. Bills aren’t going anywhere, there are lots of owners with ties to the area that would invest.

    Terry Pegula, Tom Golisano, Jeremy Jacobs, Danny Wegman, Donald Trump is rumored to be interested.

    Not worried.

  22. For the love of God, I hope that whoever buys the team does not make the mistake of hiring Joe Banner.

    How about maybe an ownership group of ex players?

  23. I don’t have any ties to Buffalo, but I knew a guy in law school (many years ago) who was from Buffalo. He could’ve moved to anywhere in the country after graduation, but was steadfast to return to Buffalo. Why? He couldn’t imagine not going to the games in Orchard Park. The Bills are Buffalo and vice versa.

  24. It’s too bad Wilson didn’t sell to an owner that would keep them in Buffalo. They’ll be gone for sure now. The last dagger in the long suffering Bills fanbase.

  25. There is NO evidence a new owner would move the team – Buffalo is a proven fanbase whereas places like London and LA not only do not have legitimate fanbases, they have no realistic prospect of ever developing one – this is what makes the league’s obsession with having teams in London and LA so foolish.

  26. Didn’t Mark Zuckerberg just exercise a $3.2 billion stock option in Facebook? He could pay cash for the team…. and buy a couple of others while at it.

  27. A week ago, we were told this team was going to be held in a trust, as it was mentioned by many that a team could be operated on while in this trust for several years.
    We also found out there was a team put together from the Bills, Erie County and NYS to see what about the possibilities of a new stadium.
    today we found out that it was left to his wife.
    Later we found out that a new owner could be had in the next few months.

    remember in 06 when everybody thought he and Mike Brown were too old and stupid to know that the CBA was good when they said it was bad? I personally think that he was planning this for some time, there are owners lined up and ready to keep this team in the 716.

    A new owner would never ever get this team out of Buffalo before 2020. Buying the team would take 850 MILLION Dollars, there would need to be an additional plan of 250-500 MILLION to be put forth towards a new stadium (the state, county and NFL would kick in the rest), and it would cost 400 MILLION to move them before 2020. That is somewhere in the range of 1.5 BILLION dollars.

    oh and in order to do that, 3/4 vote from owners would be needed (which could happen), and there would need to be court injuctions to even legally allow them to move before that time. In other words, Mr. X couldn’t cut a check for 400 MILLION and move them. There would be countless legal battles and fees upwards of 100 MILLION dollars to try to get a judge to allow it.

    To buy and move this team in the next 6 years would cost roughly 2 BILLION dollars and the league owners will not allow an owner to buy the team to sit and wait to move in that time.

    This team is not moving, and in fact, within 12-18 months will have announced the sale to a buyer(s) who will keep them local.

  28. I am sure there are many billionaires in the Buffalo area who will step up to the plate, buy the team, and keep it there with minimum return on the $900 mil investment. All for the dedicated fans in Buffalo.

  29. How does this make a move more likely? If the team is sold QUICKLY, given that the team cant move until 2020, a syndicate pledged to move them to LA would have 5 years of boycotts from Buffalo fans and big losses. An early sale LESSENS the chance of a move.

  30. And please, the team is NOT moving to Toronto. Toronto does not have a stadium that meets NFL standards. In addition, the only likely potential buyer in Toronto, Rogers, which owns the Leafs, is now a conglomerate since Ted Rogers died a few years back, so doesn’t meet ownership rules. I don’t think the NFL would be fooled by a front man. And even if they DID put a legit package together, the stadium that would be REPLACED by the new stadium that would need to be built, the one where the Blue Jays play, is owned by ROGERS. So they would be destroying the value of their own asset.

  31. Money grubbin’ kids couldn’t even wait for Ralph’s body to stiffen. I hope wherever they end up, they go broke for whatever reason. Maybe a new league where they play real football will spring up and teach these golden goose killers the lesson Cuban is professing.

  32. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I’ve always thought there was likely some kind of succession plan upon RW’s death. I just couldn’t see Wilson–who had been incredibly loyal to the area–making his beloved wife a villain by forcing her to sell to the “highest bidder” (either by the terms of his will or by her own choice) and effectively force the team to leave the area. And I’ve thought that at the very least, an informal plan was in place. My belief was that a Jim Kelly led consortium would be the new buyers. His current health aside, his boisterous remarks over the years that the team would NOT be leaving Buffalo always led me to believe he had some kind of handshake deal with Wilson and his family–or perhaps a formal deal ready to put into action upon his death. Cause a deal this complex is not getting done this quickly if the parameters haven’t already been setup. A highest bidder scenario takes time and vetting for a transaction this large. It only gets done quickly if it’s already been vetted and the terms are largely already negotiated (not difficult to have pre-negotiated a sale price years ago based on a revenue multiple or some metric or combinations of metrics like that–so that the price always reflects the current estimated value–so that regardless of the timing of Wilson’s death, the price would be adjusted for the current value of the team within whatever parameters were set in the pre-negotiation). I think this is a positive development for those wanting the team to remain in the region. Will be interesting to see if any names get leaked on who’s heading the consortium.

  33. Why on earth would anyone sell a nfl franchise. These things are only going to keep going up in value.

  34. I have always had the feeling they already have a new ownership in place.not sure why they haven’t announced it yet.Anybody remember Chad Kelly’s tweet last yr that he quickly deleted? Bills are staying in Buffalo.

  35. Abandoning diehard fan bases for profit will slow the NFL’s momentum faster than over exposure. There are enough fan bases in this league already that just support their team when it is the trendy thing to do. We need more Buffalos and less LAs.

  36. The team is staying. The owner(s) has already been identified, had say in front office changes and approved the new lease.

    As long as LA has no team, the league will have leverage in all stadium negotiations. Why would the league do that? Also, $1bil for an expansion team to the league, why move a team??

  37. My thoughts on the future of the Buffalo Bill’s is I think Tom Golisano should buy the Bill’s, moved them to Batavia NY and constructe an indoor arena for all of upstate NY and name the stadium Paycheck Park. Then Buffalo and Rochester and surrounding area city’s can enjoy seeing the home Bill’s indoors.

  38. Not a Bills fan, but I don’t want to see them leave Buffalo. The Bills mean much more to the people of Western NY and elseware than they would to LA. It would crush that town if they left. LA doesn’t need it. It would make much more sense to move the Raiders to LA than any other team. They would still have the niners, which are good right now so they got the bandwagon effect going for them. Bills fans are not bandwagoners, they love their team through thick and thin. Any team in LA will not get that kind of love.

  39. Mr. Wilson didn’t sell the team while he was alive because he loved it with all his heart. I respect and admire the fact that he never gave up on his Bills and if I live to be 95 I’m gonna keep / do things that other people think are wrong too. R.I.P. Ralph Wilson, one of the truest ambassadors for the sport that ever lived.

  40. Mary Wilson previously stated she wouldn’t sell the team to anyone who wants to move it. Her sudden rush to sell it makes me wonder if she was being totally honest.

  41. Joe Banner was interested in purchasing the Bills before he linked up with Jimmy Haslam, who bought the Browns, then allowed Banner to run the team…BIG MISTAKE.

    Banner was interviewed concerning the possible purchase of the Bills and remarked that he would be open to moving a team L.A.

    Just a heads up to Bills fans…beware of those who want to buy the Bills.

  42. You don’t want Joe Banner anywhere near your team. I bet it’s the group from Canada. Maybe the reason why they cancelled the series this year, is because they knew Ralph was not doing well, and owners knew that Rogers was going to buy the club. Not sure, but seems interesting. I don’t think owners of other clubs want a Donald Trump as part of their group.

  43. From what I understand, if someone buys the Bills and intends to move it, they can pay a $600 million penalty to end the stadium lease and go wherever they please. Now that sounds like alot of cash, but in this new era of billionaires and business, it’s not out of the question.

  44. Hope the Bills stay in Buffalo, a good town that gets an unfair rap. Maybe they could settle the new ownership question over some original Buffalo Wings and a pitcher of cold Genny Cream at the Anchor Bar?!

  45. SETTLE DOWN BILLS FANS…even if the team leaves I am a local Buffalonian who plans on bringing football right back to the 716…I have 4K in my checking account and a 2005 Chevy Lumina…My roommate is of a similar baller status. The minute we hear about the Bills leaving, we plan on putting in a bid to bring the Calgary Stampede to Buffalo. Your welcome.

  46. Why do people think a quick sale is negative? It does not necessarily mean Mary Wilson is going for a money grab.

    I bill-ieve it is because an owner is already identified who intends to keep the team in Buffalo. Mr. Wilsons final gift to Buffalo.

    With the $$$ amount to break the lease for the next 6 years, a stadium committee already working, and the proven track record of Mr, Wilson being an ambassador of Buffalo all signs point to the team staying.

  47. Trump would demand the birth certificates of any player on the team, lead an exhausting “investigation”, and come up with nothing.

  48. Yes, the Bills will be moving to LA. Everyone knows that the NFL is a profit-driven enterprise and the huge financial success of the LA Rams and LA Raiders provides solid evidence that the LA Bills will be financially successful.

    If LA falls through, then Toronto will be the destination. Again, with the NFL being so focused on profits, Toronto makes a lot of sense. The Rogers Centre can seat approximately 50,ooo spectators. It should be easy to sell out every game and generate incredible amounts of revenue. I’m sure the inability to sell out the Toronto series games the last two seasons is just an anomaly and would not at all indicate that the team would be unable to sell out games in Toronto were a new and bigger stadium built.

  49. Mr. Wilson was one of the few outspoken critics of the Browns relocation. Browns fans haven’t forgotten. They do need a better stadium, but should remain in Buffalo

  50. They may move but it wont be to LA. The NFL has LA teed up for an expansion team where the owners can collect huge rights fees to split up amongst the group, Maybe 750 mill to a Bill (or more) split 32 ways is not chump change. If the Bill move there the other owners get nothing and the new owner get the 2nd biggest market in the country for free.

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