AP News

Bills owner Wilson returns home from the hospital


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is back home and doing well after being released from the hospital.

Team spokesman Scott Berchtold provided the update Wednesday after coach Chan Gailey was asked whether he had spoken to Wilson as he usually does during a game week. Gailey said he had not, but added that Wilson had returned home on Tuesday.

"I'm sure we'll talk sometime soon," Gailey said, and later referred to Wilson as being "tough as nails."

The Bills are preparing to open their season on Sunday at AFC East rival New York Jets.

The 93-year-old Hall of Fame owner was hospitalized last week and had been listed in good condition.

The team has not revealed why Wilson was hospitalized.

Wilson had hip surgery in spring 2011, and his health has slipped, making it difficult for him to travel. After he's regularly attended Bills home games since founding the franchise in 1960, Wilson was able to attend only one last season.

News of Wilson being hospitalized came at a critical juncture for the franchise he founded as one of the inaugural members of the American Football League. The Bills are in the middle of negotiations with Erie County to extend their lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium. As part of the talks, the Bills are seeking taxpayer dollars to help fund more than $200 million in proposed renovations to the 39-year-old facility.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said last week that negotiations will continue while Wilson recovers.

The current lease expires in July. Though Bills officials have maintained the team's commitment to staying in Buffalo for the long term, there remain concerns of what happens to the franchise once Wilson dies.

Wilson has previously said he has no intention to leave the team to his family, and instead intends to have his heirs sell the franchise.

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he hasn't considered the idea of purchasing the Bills.

"I haven't given that any thought. I may have money, but I don't have a printing press," Pegula said by phone. "I have lots of commitments in other places. We're still in the oil and gas business. And as you know, the price of gas is down. We've got these other commitments that we're moving forward with. And the Bills have an owner."

Pegula has been considered a potential candidate to take a run at purchasing the Bills should they be made available. He has deep pockets, in having an estimated worth of more than $3 billion. He is the founder and former president of the energy company East Resources Inc., which was sold to Royal Dutch Shell PLC for $4.7 billion last year.

He's also donated more than $100 million to Penn State, his alma mater, to fund a new multipurpose arena and help upgrade the school's hockey program.

Pegula, who has ties to western New York, has also developed a new passion and interest in improving Buffalo.

Since purchasing the Sabres in February 2011, Pegula has shifted his interest to a downtown development project. Last week, the city selected his $123 million bid to build a multipurpose complex across the street from the Sabres arena. The new building will feature two ice rinks, restaurants and a 200-room hotel.


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