William V. "Bill" Bidwill, Sr. (born July 31, 1931) is the principal owner and chairman of the board of the (Arizona Cardinals) of the National Football League. He was co-owner from 1962 for ten seasons with his brother Charles, Jr. and has been sole owner since 1972.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bidwill went to Georgetown Preparatory School, then was 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 from Dr. David Jones in 1933, then known as the Chicago Cardinals. 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. 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.
Bidwill's ownership has been marked by little success. In his 54 years as at least part-owner, the Cardinals have only made the playoffs five times. 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.
Bidwill had a reputation for running the Cardinals rather cheaply; the Cardinals had one of the lowest payrolls in the league for many years. In recent years, however, the Cardinals have begun to spend more since moving into the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006. The increased revenue paid off in 2008, when the Cardinals won their division for the first time since 1975 (then in St. Louis), hosted a playoff game for only the second time in franchise history (the previous in 1947 in Chicago) and advanced to Super Bowl XLIII. They won two more division titles in 2009 and 2015.
In recent years, Bidwill has 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 has 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.
- "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. AP. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-17.[dead link]