Report: Group wouldn't relocate Bills

ESPN logo
Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Toronto group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi reportedly is committed to keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western New York and isn't aiming at moving the NFL team to Canada's most-populated city.

The franchise is on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March. The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.

The Toronto Sun, citing multiple sources, reported Saturday that the group is telling people and will tell the trust managing the sale of the team that it has no plans to relocate the team. 

The group includes Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, who is deputy chairman of Rogers, the Toronto communications giant.

Bon Jovi, Tanenbaum and the Rogers family each would have a one-third share in the team, but Bon Jovi would be the principle owner if the group's bid is accepted, the Sun reported.

The group is on a list of prospective buyers who have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale. The Toronto group has retained the Goldman Sachs banking firm to assist in the bid.

The team is essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of a strict nonrelocation clause included in a 10-year lease agreement reached with the state and county in December 2012.

The Bills would incur a $400 million penalty by even broaching the prospect of moving during the lease's term. There is a one-time exception that would allow the Bills to break the lease for just under $28.4 million in 2020.

One of the people told the AP that Morgan Stanley has informed prospective buyers that the Bills made just under $30 million in net profits last season. And Morgan Stanley projects that number will double by 2019 as a result of the NFL's TV contract, current renovations taking place at the stadium and other potential local sources of income.

Of about 60 nondisclosure forms sent out by Morgan Stanley in June, at least 10 of have been returned, The Associated Press reported. Among those also listed as returning their forms are Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump.

The forms were required in order for prospective bidders to gain access to financial and background information on the franchise to begin formulating their bids. The next step is for prospective bidders to submit another set of forms -- including their own financial information -- by July 29 to gain more access to the Bills' financial information.

Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but has never specifically mentioned the Bills. The AP reported that Bon Jovi discussed his interests during a restaurant meeting last month with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Bon Jovi also received strong support from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones earlier this offseason. Bills reporter Mike Rodak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Video