Three Buffalo Bills alumni and a member of the city's business community have joined the fight to keep the team in Western New York.
Former Bills receiver James Lofton, lineman Joe DeLamielleure and linebacker Billy Shaw have joined the advisory board of the Buffalo Fan Alliance. Also signing on is developer Rocco Termini, who owns numerous downtown Buffalo properties.
They join the effort to help a potential buyer keep the team in Buffalo. The Fan Alliance is working to raise tens of millions of dollars to loan to a prospective buyer interest-free. That money would allow the buyer to avoid interest fees. It would only be available for an owner who agreed in writing to keep the team in Buffalo.
"As a former player who still loves the team, I am as loyal a Bills fan as anyone, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that Buffalo retains its team," DeLamielleure said. "Fans like me can’t own an NFL franchise, but we can contribute in many ways to see the region hangs on to its beloved Bills."
The group also posted an open letter to the NFL online. The letter is meant to demonstrate support in the Buffalo area of keeping the team in town, including building a new stadium. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said a new stadium to replace Ralph Wilson Stadium is vital to the team staying. Fans are encouraged to sign the letter online.
“Dealing with a long-term solution for the stadium issue is critical to keeping the Bills in Buffalo, and it’s important we demonstrate to the NFL, and anyone considering buying the team, that support runs deep to keep the Bills right where they belong – in Western New York,” said Matt Sabuda, one of alliance directors. "Joe, Billy, James and Rocco are great additions to an all-star team. Our advisory board is really shaping up as a powerhouse of influencers who care deeply about protecting the Bills in Buffalo. We couldn't ask for a better group of people to be leaders in this effort."
The alliance already has as members former Bills Andre Reed and Steve Christie. It will also soon have two fans on board, who will be appointed vial a social media campaign. The Bills Mafia will accept nominations for fans to join the board, with 10 finalists making up the final selection pool.
The sales process is in its early stages, with an investment banker being chosen by the Bills. That bank will contact prospective bidders within a month about their prospects of buying the team, which is valued at around $870 million. Any buyer would also have to contend with the stadium issue, which involves either rehauling Ralph Wilson Stadium or building a new one.
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