William Vogel Bidwill
July 31, 1931
|Died||October 2, 2019 (aged 88)|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University|
|Known for||Principal owner and chairman of the Arizona Cardinals|
|Board member of||Chair (Arizona Cardinals)|
|Children||5; including Michael|
|Awards||NFL Alumni Order of the Leather Helmet (1982)|
William Vogel Bidwill (July 31, 1931 – October 2, 2019) was an American businessman and the owner of the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He had co-owned the team from 1962 for ten seasons with his brother Charles Jr. and had been sole owner from 1972 until his death in 2019.
Early life and education
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bidwill and his elder brother Charles were adopted by Charles and Violet Bidwill, who were NFL team owners. Bidwill attended Georgetown Preparatory School, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy until 1956. He went to college at Georgetown University, and after his graduation, moved to St. Louis a few months before the Cardinals moved there.
Charles Bidwill purchased the team, then known as the Chicago Cardinals, from David Jones in 1933. After his death at age 51 in 1947, his widow authorized business partner Ray Bennigsen to carry on management of the team. Violet Bidwill married St. Louis businessman Walter Wolfner in 1949 and he later became managing director.
St. Louis Cardinals
Prior to the 1960 season, Violet moved the Cardinals to St. Louis. Charles Jr. and Bill inherited the team after their mother's death in January 1962, and served as co-owners for ten seasons, until Bill purchased it outright in 1972. Among NFL franchises, only the Chicago Bears and New York Giants have been controlled by one family longer than the Cardinals.
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Bidwill's ownership was marked by little success. In his 58 years as at least part-owner, the Cardinals only made the playoffs eight times (1974, 1975, 1982, 1998, 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2015). He moved the team to Phoenix, Arizona, prior to the 1988 season after St. Louis refused to build a new stadium to replace Busch Memorial Stadium, in spite of the fact that the team was well supported by the local fans. Bidwill had also publicly pledged to support a future effort to gain an expansion franchise for St. Louis. Instead, he voted to approve a new franchise in Jacksonville, Florida. However, St. Louis eventually gained a new franchise anyway, the relocated Los Angeles Rams in 1995. The Rams returned to Los Angeles in 2016.
Bidwill had a reputation for running the Cardinals rather cheaply; the Cardinals had one of the lowest payrolls in the league for many years. Following the move to State Farm Stadium in 2006, the team began to spend more money. The increased revenue paid off in 2008, when the Cardinals won their division for the first time since 1975 (when the team was based in St. Louis), hosted a playoff game for only the second time in franchise history (the previous coming in 1947 as a Chicago team) and advanced to Super Bowl XLIII. They won two more division titles in 2009 and 2015.
Bidwill ceded most day-to-day control over the Cardinals to his sons Michael and Bill Jr., who serve as team president and vice president, respectively. Bidwill also had two other sons, Patrick and Tim, and a daughter, Nicole. After the death of Ralph Wilson in March 2014, Bidwill became the longest-tenured owner in the NFL.
- "Bill Bidwill sole owner of Cards". Southeast Missorian. Cape Girardeau. Associated Press. September 12, 1972. p. 8.
- Howard, Robert (February 2, 1963). "Court rules for Bidwills". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, part 4.
- "High court rules in favor of sons". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. February 2, 1963. p. 2, part 2.
- "Arizona Cardinals chairman Bill Bidwill, 'a bruising runner,' inducted into high school's hall of fame". azcentral.com. The Arizona Republic. June 5, 2017.
- "Team History, Pro Football Hall of Fame
- "Mrs. Wolfner, Cardinals' owner, dies". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. January 30, 1962. p. 1, part 3.
- Baum, Bob. "Long, rocky history marks Bidwills' ownership". Boston Globe. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
- Urban, Darrwn. "Cardinals Mourn Passing Of Owner Bill Bidwill". Retrieved October 2, 2019.