William H. "Billy" Sullivan Jr., the Patriots' original and longtime owner, has been inducted posthumously into the Patriots Hall of Fame, the franchise announced today.
“Billy Sullivan made professional football a reality in New England,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “We are celebrating the Patriots’ 50th season and all of the wonderful memories we have as fans of the Patriots. Without Billy Sullivan, the Patriots would not exist. I hope this recognition will ensure that Patriots fans never forget his contributions.”
On Nov. 16, 1959, Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final charter franchise of the American Football League. With nine other investors, he sold non-voting public stock in the franchise to raise capital to help post the franchise fee of $25,000.
In 1975, Sullivan purchased additional stock to become majority owner. In 1976, he purchased all the remaining non-voting stock in the team. He owned the Patriots through 1988, when he sold the franchise to Victor Kiam. Sullivan died Feb. 23, 1998 at age 82.
Sullivan is the first contributor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which was previously comprised of 13 players, with a 14th to be selected by fans this year. The Patriots are celebrating their 50th anniversary season through a series of acknowledgments and dedications.