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Pegulas unanimously approved as Bills owners

WBFO News file photo

NFL owners have unanimously approved the sale of the Buffalo Bills to Terry and Kim Pegula.

The Pegulas arrived just before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for the NFL owners meeting in New York City. The sale of the Bills was up early on the meeting's agenda.

The husband and wife, who also own the Buffalo Sabres, were initially escorted into a private room away from the closed door meeting but within minutes they were asked to join the owners. There was a loud round of applause as they entered the room.

Twitter lit up with word of the sale as numerous media outlets assembled outside the meeting heard word that the Pegulas had been approved as the new owners.   

The Pegulas become only the second owner of the Buffalo Bills, purchasing the team from the late Ralph Wilson Jr. for a record $1.4 billion. Their bid was accepted by the Wilson estate last month.

Terry Pegula made brief comments to the media late Wednesday morning, thanking the league owners for their support. He said there is a "small matter" of having to pay for the team before he officially becomes owner.

"If you asked me 10 years ago if I was going to own the Sabres and the Bills, I would have called you a liar," Pegula said.

Pegula said he will be in Buffalo for the Sabres home opener at First Niagara Center Thursday night. He indicated the Bills purchase should be complete by Friday.

"I got a hell of a deal," Pegula said, regarding the price tag for the sale. "I own the team."

Wilson, who founded the team, passed away in March, setting off a bidding war over the summer that included a Toronto-based group which rock star Jon Bon Jovi was involved in. In September, the Pegulas won the bid but still needed the approval of the NFL owners. The vote was considered a mere formality.

"What they have done, their commitment to this city and this community has just been tremendous. We are lucky to have them as new owners," said Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy Wednesday. "Ralph Wilson and the Wilson family have done a tremendous job and what a great way to hand off the baton of great leadership of our Bills from the Wilson family to the Pegulas."

The 63-year-old Pegula, a Pennsylvania billionaire, made his fortune after founding a natural gas drilling company, which he later sold for $4.7 billion. He purchased the Sabres in 2011. He also owns the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team and the Rochester Americans minor league hockey club.

"There were a number of suitors, a lot of great names. The Pegulas certainly were my favorites. I think now we can feel comfortable that the team will be here for the long haul," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday, following the league approval.

The next major issue regarding the team will be whether it needs a new stadium. Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, one of the oldest facilities in the league, underwent major renovations over the past year. But many believe a new venue will be needed at some point, with some pushing for a stadium in the City of Buffalo.

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