Death raises questions about team’s future

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – With the passing of Ralph Wilson, the Buffalo Bills are entering into uncharted territory, the future of NFL football in Buffalo. Many people want to know if the Buffalo Bills will stay in western New York.

The hope is that the team will stay right here for the long term. However, there are estate matters to be ironed out, and what are Ralph Wilson’s intentions.

Former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski said, “I can remember on thousands of occasions that he would say, ‘As long as I’m alive this team’s not moving.’”

Gorski says the new lease with the Buffalo Bills is good and favorable, he says, compared to leases in other cities.

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“I think you have a sentiment in the NFL for small markets. And Buffalo is a small market and that’s just the nature of the way it’s going to go. And I think Buffalo is going to be here for many, many years,” said Gorski.

There are provisions in the lease that keep the team in place for several years, for example the Bills would have to pay $400 million if it left before 2020.

Former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello said, “To me the Buffalo Bills should stay here and will stay here.”

Masiello says the Queen City is a football city, and that the community has been loyal from the very beginning.

“I just think that whoever is going buy the Bills in the future is going to see that we got a great stadium, a great fan base, and you’re not going to create that some place else,” said Masiello.

Wilson’s death leaves the future of the Bills in Buffalo unclear. At some point, his intentions will be known. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is optimistic that the Bills will remain right here in western New York.

He said, “The Buffalo Bills are here because of Mr. Wilson, and I believe they will be here for many, many years to come because of the things that Mr. Wilson has done recently.”

Those things, according to Poloncarz, include Wilson entering into a new lease agreement which carries an expectation that the team will be in Buffalo and western New York for many years. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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