Detroit might cash in from Buffalo Bills sale
Detroit could be an unlikely winner from the planned $1.4-billion sale of the Buffalo Bills NFL football team.
Ralph Wilson, the late founder of the Bills and a Grosse Pointe Shores resident, instructed before his death this year that some proceeds from the team's sale go toward both Detroit and Buffalo, according to a report in the Buffalo News.
The newspaper cited an anonymous source who said that a large portion of the $1.4 billion — perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars — will go to the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation once the transaction is finalized. Wilson, who died March 25 at 95 years old, reportedly directed the foundation to spend that money only in Detroit or Buffalo.
Wilson's foundation is on Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Farms. Messages left by phone and in person today for the foundation's vice president, Jeffrey Littmann, were not returned.
Littman is still listed as the Bills' chief financial officer, according to the team's website.
The Buffalo News article did not specify how the money would be spent in either city.
"We hope some of it comes here," said Krista Jahnke, a communications officer with the Skillman Foundation in Detroit. "There is a major need for more investments in the Detroit nonprofit space."
The sale of the Bills by Wilson's estate to Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey team, is expected to gain final approval Wednesday, when NFL team owners meet in New York City.
Wilson's widow, Mary Wilson, was at Ford Field on Sunday when the Bills beat the Lions 17-14. It was the New York team's final game under Wilson family ownership.
Ralph Wilson was born in Columbus in 1918 and moved with his family to Detroit when he was 3.
He founded the Bills in 1959 as an expansion team in what was then the American Football League. In 2009 at 90, he became the oldest person to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.