Clause in lease document forbids Buffalo Bills sale to any group wanting to relocate team

Tuesday April 29th, 2014

Clause in Buffalo Bills lease forbids sale of team to owner willing to relocate The Bills' current lease keeps the team in Buffalo through 2023. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Any group that is looking to purchase the Buffalo Bills will need to do so with the intention of keeping the franchise local, according to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun.

The Bills have a reported one-time option in their current contract that will allow the lease to be broken in 2020 for a relatively affordable $28.4 million. Many believe that if a group purchased the Bills with the intention of eventually leaving Buffalo, that would be the opportunity to relocate the franchise.

However, according to Kryk, the non-relocation agreement attached to the Bills' lease (which runs through 2023) contains a clause that forbids the sale of the team to any group wanting to relocate the franchise.

Clause 3(b) in the non-relocation agreement states, in part, that without approval of both the state-appointed public corporation that owns the Ralph and the county in which the stadium sits, the club shall not "sell, assign or otherwise transfer the team to any person who, to the Bills' knowledge, has an intention to relocate, transfer or otherwise move the team ..."

The clause also prevents the team from so much as entertaining, soliciting or negotiating any offer or proposal to relocate the team.

To do otherwise would be in breach of this novel non-relocation agreement between the Bills, the NFL, the state of New York and Erie County.

The legal terminology used in the agreement suggests the team can't be sold to an ownership group that is known to have intentions of relocating the franchise. However, misdirection is relatively commonplace in this corner of the sports world, and Bills fans will likely remain skeptical of any prospective ownership group lacking strong ties to the region.

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