Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 9
The Buffalo Bills formally announced that Terry Pegula has bought the team (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com):
#Bills officially announce sale of the team to the Pegula family, who is committed to Buffalo. Mary Wilson: “Ralph would have been pleased.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter has the financial details:
Now being told that Terry Pegula paid close to $1.4 BILLion for the Bills, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2014
Adam Caplan of ESPN passed along a timeline for the sale to become official:
The parties intend to submit the agreement for approval by the NFL owners at their meeting in New York City on October 8th.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) September 9, 2014
Earlier, Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reported a tentative agreement had been reached for the sale of the Bills:
I'm told tentative agreement has been reached between the Bills and the Pegulas and an official announcement should come today.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) September 9, 2014
Second source on Pegulas buying the Bills: "Done deal."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) September 9, 2014
What does Terry Pegula’s imminent purchase of #Bills mean? Source: “It’s historic for the city of Buffalo.” The team isn’t going anywhere— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2014
Kim Pegula, Terry’s wife, will be heavily involved in the #Bills executive process, making many of the decisions, source says.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2014
Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported financial details of the sale:
Sources are telling me that Terry Pegula has won the bidding for the Buffalo Bills for about $1.2 billion, a record price paid for a professional football team that does not own its stadium. ...
... My source says the Toronto Group, which included rocker Jon Bon Jovi, Larry Tenenbaum, chairman and 25% owner of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and the Rogers family, bid "around $1 billion" while [Donald] Trump's bid did not top $900 million.
New York Governor Anthony Cuomo released a statement on Pegula and keeping the Bills in Buffalo:
From day one, keeping the Bills in Buffalo has been one of our administration's top priorities, and reports that Terry and Kim Pegula have been chosen as the team's new owners highlight a tremendous step toward making that goal a reality. The Bills are an integral part of Western New York, from its economy to its culture, and as the team's new owners the Pegulas will ensure that the Bills remain at the core of the region's identity – just as the late Ralph Wilson, Jr. did for 54 years. Terry and Kim have already shown their commitment to the region through the Buffalo Sabres and the construction of the HarborCenter development, and I look forward to working with them in the years to come to keep the Bills in Buffalo, where they belong.
Updates from Monday, Sept. 8
Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has a major update on when a decision may be made on the next owner of the Buffalo Bills:
Just phoned in an update to the desk: A decision on the Bills' next owner (pending final NFL approval) could happen tomorrow.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) September 9, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports on who is currently the favorite to land the team:
Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula is on verge of buying the Buffalo Bills, per league sources, and the process is said to be "moving quick."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2014
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds:
Today was the final day for binding bids to buy #Bills, which explains the timing issue. Source: “I’d be stunned if it’s not Terry Pegula.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 3
The Associated Press (via Fox Sports) has the latest on the Bills sale:
At least three groups, including Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, have entered final negotiations to buy the Buffalo Bills.
Three people close to discussions told The Associated Press on Tuesday that New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump and a Toronto-based group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi also have received formal documents in advance of a deadline for bids to be submitted by Monday.
The AP also discussed the state of the groups bidding on the team:
The Pegulas remain the front-runners. They have a net worth of more than $3.5 billion, and have the support of local business leaders and public officials because of their commitment to keep the Bills in western New York.
The Bon Jovi group remains intact despite several recent reports of it splintering. The group is rounded out by Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and the Rogers family, which controls Rogers Communications.
Updates from Friday, Aug. 22
Mike Ozanian of Forbes has the latest on the Bills' sale:
The circus that has been masquerading as the sale of the Buffalo Bills has received three non-binding bids to date, each below $900 million, according to two sources familiar with the sale of the National Football League team. Both of these sources are not directly involved in the sale as of yet.
Here are the current offers for the football team, being run by Morgan Stanley for the trust of the late Ralph Wilson.
Terry Pegula: $890 million.
Toronto Group (Larry Tanenbaum, Bon Jovi, Ed Rogers): $820 million.
Donald Trump: $809 million. (Note, I previously wrote that sources had pegged Trump’s bid in the mid-800s.)
What now? Binding bids for the Bills were originally expected to be submitted within the next few weeks so the NFL ‘s owners could vote on approving the winning bidder in October. But that may not happen given the low bids for a team that I calculate is worth $935 million. Not to mention the bad publicity a sale under $900 million could generate for the NFL so soon after Steve Ballmer bought the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 19
The Associated Press (via ESPN) has an update on the Bills sale:
The sale of the Buffalo Bills is entering its final stage with prospective buyers asked to submit their formal bids in about two weeks, a person familiar with the sale process told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
"It's coming down the backstretch," the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the sale is being conducted privately.
Updates from Sunday, Aug. 17
Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly recently met with Jon Bon Jovi's group of investors looking to purchase the team, according to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News:
Jim Kelly recently met with Jon Bon Jovi to discuss partnering up in pursuit of the Buffalo Bills, but the Hall of Fame quarterback declined to enlist over lingering concerns the team could move, The Buffalo News has learned.
A source close to Kelly and bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach told The News on Sunday night that Kelly met with Bon Jovi face to face in Buffalo last week, but they didn’t merge.
Gundlach, originally from East Amherst, has been working with Kelly’s group since last month.
"I can confirm that Jim Kelly met with Jon Bon Jovi, but Kelly and Jeffrey Gundlach will not be pursuing a relationship with the Toronto group," the source said in an email on condition of anonymity.
"Kelly and Gundlach do not feel confident that their aspirations for keeping the Bills in Buffalo long-term are aligned with the interests of the Toronto group."
Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 13
Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has an update on the Bills situation:
Educated source once involved in Bills sales process says team is "Pegula's to lose" and Bon Jovi group is "unfocused and disorganized."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) August 14, 2014
Same source as earlier tweet tells me Bills will be in Western New York "for a very, very long time whether they get a new stadium or not."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) August 14, 2014
The Buffalo Bills are for sale, and there have been plenty of parties interested in purchasing the NFL franchise.
With a passionate, loyal fanbase, a tradition of success and little elsewhere for the team to go but up, it makes sense that the Bills are a hot commodity. Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reported that there are up to eight interested buyers.
John Kryk of Canoe.ca reported Monday that Bon Jovi's group, which also features Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family, is a finalist to land the Bills, along with Donald Trump and Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula:
After almost two weeks either on the outs or in limbo, the Bon Jovi/Toronto bid group has been advised it is a finalist in the Buffalo Bills sale, Sun Media learned Monday morning. The group is scheduled to meet with the seller and its transaction team on Tuesday in Manhattan. Over the weekend the Toronto group finally was informed its rebid had been accepted, sources say.
According to Graham, Trump already presented his case as a prospective owner last Wednesday to the Bills' trust represented by Morgan Stanley. Ex-Sabres owner Tom Golisano has also submitted a bid, though it was after the original July 29 deadline.
Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is also reportedly involved in one of the eight contingents, per Graham's sources.
The Buffalo News published a letter Bon Jovi wrote that outlined his genuine intentions to own the team. Below is an excerpt, per The Associated Press' John Wawrow:
There has been a lot of conjecture, so we think it's important to clarify our intentions to the fans of the team and people of Buffalo. I know how much the Bills mean to the people of this region. So I want you to hear this from me: I'm not risking it all to let you down. If we are given the chance to be the next owners of the Buffalo Bills, I promise you that we will bring the same passion that you do every Sunday, every day.
Sportscaster Jim Rome weighed in when Bon Jovi's initial bid—which was "uncompetitively low," according to Kryk's sources—was rejected:
Bon Jovi's initial bid to buy the Bills was rejected. SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, Jon. HAVE A NICE DAY. Your bid was LAID DOWN IN A BED OR ROSES— Jim Rome (@jimrome) August 6, 2014
Todd Clausen of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle observed how both Bon Jovi's letter and Trump's public declaration on an NBC telecast may impact their bids:
That Bon Jovi and his team were able to recover well enough from an initial rejected bid and violating the non-disclosure agreement to maintain firm status as a finalist is a positive sign for their chances to own the Bills.
Who should own the Bills among the reported finalists?
Keeping the franchise in Buffalo is something Bon Jovi, the founding owner of the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul, committed to in his open letter. However, concerns loom about the Bills' ultimate location should it fall under Bon Jovi's control. The Bills have played home games in Toronto in recent years, and Bon Jovi's two ownership partners are from the Canadian city.
There are big shoes for the new owner to fill following the passing of legendary owner Ralph Wilson in March, but this is an exciting new age for professional football in Buffalo. Drafting electric wide receiver Sammy Watkins to help 2013 first-round quarterback EJ Manuel run coach Doug Marrone's uptempo offense ought to add some intrigue to the AFC East this season.
The defense is also strong across the defensive front, headlined by former No. 1 overall draft choice Mario Williams. There are pieces in place for the Bills to compete in the coming years, but having a committed ownership group will be key to elevating the organization to consistent Super Bowl contention.
Plenty of powerful buyers are keen on investing in the franchise, so the Bills' trust has a difficult decision to make. It remains to be seen whether the non-disclosure agreement violations will impact whom the trust chooses to carry the team into the foreseeable future.