The team, which was established in 1959 by Ralph C. Wilson, is being sold by Wilson's estate to Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres franchise, for $1.4 billion. According to the Buffalo News, the endowment of the foundation, which will focus its grantmaking exclusively on Buffalo and Detroit, will dwarf that of the Buffalo-based John R. Oishei Foundation, the largest foundation in western New York, with more than $300 million in assets.
Although details on how it plans to use its windfall have not been released, the foundation has previously provided support to health and medical research organizations, including the Hunter's Hope Foundation in Orchard Park, New York; St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit; and the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Department at the University at Buffalo.
In addition to owning the Bills for more than half a century, Wilson, who died in March, was a co-founder of the American Football League and was credited with keeping the league afloat for many years before it merged with the NFL in 1970. Elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 2009, Wilson saw his team appear in four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s.
"It is fitting that the proceeds from the sale of the Buffalo Bills will allow the Wilson family to continue Ralph Wilson’s generosity and deep commitment to Buffalo and western New York," Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told the Buffalo News. "Mr. Wilson cared about our community, and his impact will be felt in numerous ways for many years to come."