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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ralph Wilson dead. For as long as I've lived in Buffalo this has been a moment that has lurked in the collective background of civic worries. The Buffalo Bills have a lease with Erie County through 2020-- so six years on the clock. Forbes says the franchise is worth $870 million, and Wilson paid a $25,000 franchise fee for it when the AFL was starting out. I'm no tax lawyer, but I think that $25k would be the basis, and the difference between the basis and the present value of the franchise would be what the estate tax valuation for the team would be. Does the Wilson estate have the scratch to pay estate taxes on $870 million bucks? Again, I'm no expert, but it isn't immediately obvious to me that moving the team would be the smart play, but keeping it here is going to depend on finding someone with the dough to buy and operate it who is also committed to keeping his toy here in town.

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