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Ralph Wilson's widow, Mary, becomes Bills' controlling owner

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The Canadian Press
4/3/2014 3:52:59 PM
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Mary Wilson is taking over as the Buffalo Bills' controlling owner after the death last week of her husband, Ralph Wilson.

Ralph Wilson was the founder and only owner of the franchise. He died March 25 at the age of 95.

The team says "A process will be established at an appropriate time for the sale of the franchise. "

The Bills also announced that CEO Russ Brandon, general manager Doug Whaley and coach Doug Marrone will remain in charge of football operations under the new ownership.

Ralph Wilson founded the Bills when the American Football League began play in 1960 and was a major factor in the merger of the AFL and NFL that was completed in 1970.

He long expressed no desire to leave the team to his family, and this announcement is the first step in what's likely a lengthy path to new ownership.

The team said in a statement: "This process will ensure that the club complies and is faithful to NFL rules and to its obligations to New York State and Erie County. We plan to have detailed discussions with the NFL, the state and county, and others as we determine the timing and structure of any sales process."

A 20-member committee called the New Stadium Working Group recently met to discuss whether the Bills should build a new stadium, or whether Ralph Wilson Stadium should be renovated.

The current stadium lease expires in 2022. The Bills are essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through 2019 under terms of a 10-year lease agreement they reached with state and county governments in December 2012. The deal features a $400 million penalty the Bills would have to pay in the event a court ruled in favour of the team breaking the lease and relocating.

In 2020, however, the Bills have a one-time opportunity to opt out of the lease for about $28 million.



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