Ralph Wilson is dead at age 95, which probably interests you mostly if you’re a fan of the Buffalo Bills, which he owned for the last 54 years, or if you’re from Detroit and want to point out that he lived in your wealthiest suburb. But with Wilson’s inevitable demise, the Bills will now be up for sale, and you know what that means: FREAKOUT TIME!
With Wilson now passed away, the vultures may well begin circling away. … You’ll have to forgive a native Buffalonian for feeling a bit antsy at this time, as talk of the Bills leaving Buffalo has been around for over a decade and never fails to inspire panic and dread.
The Buffalo news media actually seems to be pretty panic- and dread-free so far, either because they’re being considerate in the wake of the passing of a major local figure, or just because they got all the panic out of the way ahead of time. The lease extension for the Bills that Wilson signed in 2012 guarantees that the team will stay put through 2022, though there’s a $28 million buyout option after the 2019 season, which wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to an owner shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a team.
The main immediate impact of Wilson’s death on the Bills is for talks to be ramped up on a state-funded replacement for Ralph Wilson Stadium, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already all over. Just thinking out loud here, but maybe Cuomo might have wanted to demand more than a ten-year lease with a buyout after seven in exchange for the last $226 million in taxpayer money he gave to Wilson’s team.