(Reuters) - The estate of longtime Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who died earlier this year, reached an agreement on Tuesday to sell the NFL franchise to Terry and Kim Pegula, who already own the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres.
Terry Pegula, 63, a natural gas development and real estate mogul, has been a popular figure in Buffalo for his commitment to keep the franchise in western New York state.
The price tag for the Bills was not revealed although multiple outlets reported the deal to be worth $1.4 billion, more than the $1.05 billion truck-stop magnate Jim Haslam paid for the Cleveland Browns in 2012.
“Our interest in owning the Bills has everything to do with the people of Western New York and our passion for football,” Pegula said in a statement.
“We have knowledgeable, dedicated fans here, and along with our ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, it is gratifying to reassure these great fans that two franchises so important to our region are both here to stay.”
The team was put up for sale when Wilson, the franchise’s founding owner, died in March at the age of 95.
Among the unsuccessful bidders was singer-songwriter Jon Bon Jovi, who was part of an ownership group from Toronto, where the Bills play some of their home games.
“On behalf of myself, Larry Tanenbaum and Edward Rogers, we wish Terry and Kim Pegula all the best as they continue the legacy and tradition of the Buffalo Bills and the Wilson family,” he said.
“This is a very important day in the history of the Buffalo Bills franchise,” Bills controlling owner Mary Wilson said in a statement.
”Ralph brought professional football to Buffalo in 1959 and it was his life’s passion. He loved his team and he cherished the fans and his legacy will remain for all time.
“Ralph would have been pleased with the sale of the team to the Terry Pegula family, who has been so committed to Buffalo and the Western New York region.”
The deal could be approved by the NFL during the owners’ fall meeting on Oct. 8 in New York City.
“From day one, keeping the Bills in Buffalo has been one of our administration’s top priorities, and reports that Terry and Kim Pegula have been chosen as the team’s new owners highlight a tremendous step toward making that goal a reality,” Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Tom Brown