(Reuters) - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would like see the Bills remain in Buffalo but conceded the team’s future could hinge on the construction of a new stadium.
The death of longtime Bills owner Ralp Wilson in March sparked speculation that the team could be sold and relocated with Toronto, where the team has played a series of regular season games, and Los Angeles floated as possible locations.
But in an article by the Buffalo News, Goodell remained optimistic that the team will remain in Western New York.
”I’ve had a lot of discussions with prospective owners,“ Goodell was quoted as saying in the report. ”But I’ve also had discussions with public officials.
“We all want to focus and get that stadium and do it the right way and get the right ownership in there to make sure they continue to be successful in western New York.”
The sale of the franchise, which could bring close to $1 billion, could be completed in time for owners to vote on it at their annual meetings in October.
Goodell said the sale will require two votes, one to approve new ownership which will require a 75 percent majority and a second if there is the possibility of the franchise relocating.
”There’s one vote to approve an ownership, and if a team potentially relocates, it’s another vote,“ said Goodell. ”We’re not making those one vote.
“We’re making those two separate votes and the intention is, whoever buys the team will be trying to make the team work in Western New York.”
With NFL franchises rarely on the open market, the sale of Bills has attracted plenty of interest with American billionaire Donald Trump, rocker Bon Jovi and groups from Toronto mentioned as perspective buyers.
The Bills, however, will not be going anywhere soon with the club having signed a 10-year lease agreement with Erie County in 2012 that called for $130 million in upgrades to the aging
80,000 seat stadium located just outside Buffalo.
“We said at the time when they entered into their new lease, that this is really a short-term solution,” said Goodell. “We need to find the right long-term solution that is good for the community and can help the Bills continue to be successful in Western New York, and I’m confident we’ll get there.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue