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Clause in Agreement Makes Relocation Nearly Impossible for Buffalo Bills

April 29th, 2014 at 11:31 AM
By Richard N. Wade II

Since the passing of former team owner and founder Ralph C. Wilson Jr. on March 25, 2014, the Buffalo Bills future has been shrouded in mystery. The potential sale of the team to an unknown person has brought angst amongst fans across the nation.

'Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo NY. Crane lift  (21)' photo (c) 2007, Michael Cardus - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The odds of the Buffalo Bills being moved to another city is remote, this due to a clause in the Bills restrictive non-relocation agreement with Erie County and the state of New York. The clause expressly prohibits the sale of the NFL franchise to anyone who intends to relocate the team – at least before the agreement expires in July 2023. The provision may possibly supersede the one-time out clause in February 2020 that allows the Bills to break their 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium for a $28.4 million penalty.

Fans were at first furious at the thought of potentially losing their beloved Bills to another city, perhaps Toronto according to some reports. Rock musician Jon Bon Jovi has voiced his intent on possibly buying the Bills. According to various reports, Bon Jovi has said he would likely try to move the team to Toronto if he became owner.

The widely reported $400 million relocation buyout option is a last resort for any new potential owner. He or She would first have to defeat Erie County in court to break the lease, then pay the $400 million penalty.

The current lease runs until 2023. The potential buyout comes after the 2019 season, but the penalty is $400 million. Ralph Wilson Stadium, built in 1973, is currently undergoing $130 million in upgrades. 

The 2014 Buffalo Bills season opens on September 7 as they travel to Chicago to battle the Bears.

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL

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