NEW YORK (AP) Admitting it was a dream come true, Terry Pegula and wife Kim were unanimously approved by NFL owners Wednesday as new owners of the Buffalo Bills.
The Pegulas, who already own the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, expect the sale to be finalized by the end of the week.
"This is a significant step in us owning the team.'' Terry Pegula said. ''There's a small matter of having to pay some money and we'll get that done.''
That payment would be for $1.4 billion.
Longtime Bills owner Ralph Wilson died in March, prompting the sale.
Buffalo sports fans were concerned the Bills could be moved out of state if purchased by another group. But the Pegulas are committed to the Buffalo area.
''If you asked me 10 years ago if I would own the Sabres and the Bills, I would have called you a liar,'' Pegula said. ''I just got a hell of a deal. I own the team.''
Kim Pegula is expected to have a high-ranking role with the Bills, working alongside current team president Russ Brandon.
After the 31 other team owners voted in favor of the Pegulas, the couple received a warm ovation. Their purchase also was lauded by New York politicians.
''Today, all of western New York can yell out, `Touchdown!' because we have secured long-term owners for the Bills who are fully committed to keeping the team in Western New York for generations,'' Sen. Charles Schumer said. ''Over the course of these past few months, I spoke regularly with the NFL and with a number of owners and conveyed my belief that the Pegulas, with their Buffalo roots, were fully committed to the Bills' future in western New York and the right pair to carry on Ralph Wilson's legacy. The owners have made an excellent decision in unanimously approving the Pegulas' ownership of the team, and I am confident Terry and Kim will be excellent stewards of this next chapter in Bills history.''
Terry Pegula has a net worth valued of over $4.6 billion, and made his fortune in the natural gas industry. In 2010, he completed a deal to sell a large portion of his company East Resources' assets for $4.7 billion to Royal Dutch Shell.
Pegula is from Carbondale, Pennsylvania, graduated from Penn State, and established his company in 1983 after receiving a $7,500 loan from his family and friends.
The Bills were last valued by Forbes at $935 million, but their price was well above other recent sales. The Cleveland Browns were sold for close to $1.05 billion two years ago, and the Miami Dolphins sold for an NFL-record $1.1 billion in 2009. Their deal also included their stadium.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently praised the Pegulas for their work with the Sabres.
''Terry and Kim Pegula have been terrific owners. They're passionate about sports, they're committed to Western New York. And if you had to computer-generate new ownership for the Bills, you wouldn't do any better than the Pegulas,'' Bettman said.
''They've invested in the community. They're building a major complex across the street from the arena, harbor-side. They have devoted themselves, their energy, their resources, and haven't held back at all. They're all in. If you're a fan of either the Sabres or the Bills, you're going to feel good about that.''
The Pegulas first met in Olean, New York, about a 90-minute drive south of Buffalo. Terry Pegula has been a longtime Sabres fan dating to the team's famed French Connection line in the 1970s, and he was a regular at Bills games in the 1990s.
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