Moving the Buffalo Bills to Toronto may be virtually impossible

Moving the Buffalo Bills to Toronto may be virtually impossible

The Bills play the Miami Dolphins at Rogers Centre in 2008. (Image: gbalogh)

Talk of a wealthy buyer moving the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise over the border to Toronto has been constant since the death of Ralph Wilson, the team’s long-time owner. (At least one group of investors is reportedly interested in making it happen.) Except now, QMI is saying that Toronto’s pigskin dreams never stood a chance.

The catch is in an obscure clause in the Bills’ non-relocation agreement—a contract between the team, Erie County, and New York state. According to QMI, this clause forbids the Bills’ ownership from selling the team to “any person who, to the Bills’ knowledge, has an intention to relocate, transfer or otherwise move the team,” and says the restriction can only be waived with permission from state and county officials. The agreement reportedly doesn’t expire until 2023.

Equally vexing for anyone interested in moving the team is the fact that its legal hold on its current stadium would be incredibly difficult to break. QMI has reported that the stadium lease couldn’t be terminated until at least 2020, and then only if the team’s owner was willing to pay a $24.4 million fee.

And so while an eventual Toronto move isn’t an outright impossibility, making it happen would almost certainly require some really intense lawyering. Don’t give up your Argos season tickets just yet.