The husband-and-wife team that owns the NHL Buffalo Sabres had its NFL-record $1.4 billion purchase agreement to buy the Bills approved unanimously by the league's finance committee on Wednesday.
"This is a very big step," NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman said after announcing the results of the committee's vote, which took place at the league's headquarters in New York.
The vote clears the way for NFL owners to formally approve the sale at league meetings on Oct. 7-8. The Pegulas will require three-quarters majority approval from the 32 owners, including the trust overseeing late Bills owner Ralph Wilson's estate.
The Pegulas then took a highly aggressive approach in their bid to buy the Bills and ensure they stay in western New York, amid concerns the franchise could potentially relocate to Toronto or Los Angeles.
The Pegulas were celebrated by fans attending the Bills' home-opening 29-10 win over Miami on Sunday. Many fans carried signs and wore T-shirts paying tribute to the Pegulas.
Numerous local businesses have even bought ads in local newspapers thanking the Pegulas for their commitment to the Bills and Buffalo.
They also have the support of area politicians, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
"Over the past week, I spoke with a number of owners on the committee, including chairman Bob McNair, and made sure they understood how serious the Pegulas are about keeping the Bills in western New York," Schumer said in a released statement. "I will continue to work over the weeks ahead to ensure that the Pegulas' ownership of the team, and the Bills' future in western New York, are approved by the rest of the league."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo referred to the unanimous vote as an "important milestone."
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press