Buffalo Bills Owner Search: Latest Updates and Rumors on Open Position

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IApril 3, 2014

Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) is introduced before playing the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y. Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. Kansas City won 23-13. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
Bill Wippert

Updates from Monday, Sept. 8

John Wawrow of the Associated Press provided updates on the latest in the Bills' owner search:

Four people familiar with discussions have told The Associated Press that at least three groups — including Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula — have submitted formal bids to buy the Buffalo Bills.

The other groups submitting bids before a deadline Monday were led by real estate mogul Donald Trump and a Toronto group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

Updates from Friday, Aug. 29

Josh Kosman and Lois Weiss of the New York Post provide the latest on the Buffalo Bills' owner search:

Jon Bon Jovi has been chucked from the group, The Post has learned.

The rocker and the deep-pocketed Toronto-based sports team owners who are bidding for the Buffalo Bills have parted way, sources close to the situation said Friday.

The remaining entities in the group — Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which controls the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors, and Edward Rogers, chairman of Rogers Communications — believe they are in a stronger position to win the Bills auction without Bon Jovi, sources said.


Updates from Thursday, Aug. 21

John Kryk of Canoe.ca provides an update on Jon Bon Jovi and the Buffalo Bills:

Jon Bon Jovi and his Toronto backers are reassessing whether even to continue in their pursuit of the Buffalo Bills, QMI Agency has learned.

Their bid has been on the rocks for weeks and no one within the group is optimistic they'll wind up buying the NFL team, according to two sources in the position to know.


"They're hanging on by the skin of their teeth," one source said. "The bid's on life support.

Updates from Monday, Aug. 11

John Kryk of Canoe.ca reported on the latest in the bidding to become the next owner of the Buffalo Bills:

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.

Updates from Sunday, Aug. 10

Mike Ozanian of Forbes provides financial insight behind suitors' bids to become owner of the Buffalo Bills:

As of right now the three groups that I have confirmed with sources as having submitted bids for the Buffalo Bills has offered less than $1 billion for the NFL team.

Donald Trump has offered in the mid-$800 million territory, Terry Pegula and  Bon Jovi has both offered well under $1 billion, according to sources familiar withe the bids.


Updates from Friday, Aug. 8

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has an update on potential suitors:

Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly still is trying to find his way into the team's sale process.

But the Hall of Fame quarterback has sidled up to a business partner in hopes of gaining entry.

The Buffalo News has learned Kelly and bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach met with the Bills' trust Thursday in the Detroit area, where Ralph Wilson Enterprises is located.

Gundlach might not have enough cash to take the lead in buying an NFL club, but sources told The News that he and Kelly met with the Bills' trust in hopes of being matched as minority partners with a more formidable party.

Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reports suitors interested in becoming Bills owner will meet with the Bills' trust:

The Buffalo Bills have begun listening to in-person presentations from prospective buyers, with as many as eight scheduled over the next three weeks, The Buffalo News has learned.


NFL sources have informed The News presentations will take place over the next three weeks in the Detroit area. Ralph Wilson Enterprises is based in suburban Grosse Point Shores, Mich.

Billionaire developer Donald Trump's jet was spotted in Detroit on Wednesday. A source said Trump was the first to deliver his pitch.

Graham later provided clarification on his report:

Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 5

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reports one group may be pulling away in the race to purchase the Buffalo Bills:

Every day, however, Terry and Kim Pegula gain an even tighter stranglehold on the team.

Sources close to the sale insist the Pegulas' pursuit has been flawless so far. The other groups are way behind and leaking oil well short of the finish line.

Two sources connected to Jon Bon Jovi's group told The Buffalo News there has been serious soul-searching within.

Some of Bon Jovi's influential NFL friends -- he has close relationships with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones -- have advised him bail on his attempted purchase to save face, sources say.

Updates from Monday, Aug. 4

NBC's Mike Florio details Al Michaels explaining a conversation he had with Donald Trump regarding the Buffalo Bills during Sunday Night Football yesterday:

He said he offered $1 billion.  All cash, no contingencies, immediate closing.  He’d have the check in one hour. He was a little miffed that it went out for bid again.

Updates from Sunday, Aug. 3

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News provides a statement from Jon Bon Jovi discussing his commitment to the Bills:

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.

My family and I are prepared to make this life-changing commitment to be part of the Bills. This is not a hobby or an acquisition. Building a winner on and off the field will be job one and I intend to spend as much time on the ground in Buffalo as needed to accomplish that goal.

Our objective is simple: to carry on the legacy of Ralph Wilson and make the Bills successful in Buffalo.

Updates from Friday, August 1

Adam Benigni of WGRZ in Buffalo has the latest on John Bon Jovi's bid to buy the Bills:

Updates from Thursday, July 31

John Wawrow of The Associated Press reports a development on the Bills' potential sale:

Donald Trump's attorney confirmed the real estate mogul has been chosen to advance to the next round of bidding to purchase the Buffalo Bills.

Michael Cohen referred to Trump as "a viable option" in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday after being informed of the decision by Morgan Stanley, a firm overseeing the sale for late owner Ralph Wilson's estate.

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has more:

Graham reports previously reported bids have not been accurate:

Updates from Wednesday, July 30

Josh Kosman and Lois Weiss of the New York Post have the latest on the Bills' potential valuation:

A Pennsylvania fracking mogul bid more than $1 billion for the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday — making it likely the team will attract a record sales price for an NFL team, The Post has learned.

Terrence Pegula, who owns the NHL Buffalo Sabres, is one of only two known bidders for the storied football franchise, which was put on the block last spring following the March 25 death of owner Ralph Wilson Jr..

Updates from Thursday, July 24

ESPN provides an update on the Bills' search for a new owner and venue:

A Buffalo Bills prospective ownership group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi has conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto, a person close to the situation told The Associated Press.

The study identified at least three potential stadium sites, two in Toronto, including one on the waterfront, and another in the suburb of Mississauga, the person told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Bon Jovi and his partners, Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family, have not publicly revealed details of their plans to purchase the team.

Updates from Monday, July 21

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio discusses the potential for the Buffalo Bills franchise to relocate under new ownership, per ESPN.com's Mike Rodak:

As for whether a new ownership would consider relocating the team, Paolantonio was firm that would not happen.

'I don't think the team's moving,' he told WGR 550 on Monday. 'I would stake my professional reputation on it. I think people in ownership want to see the team stay here. I think they want to continue the legacy of Ralph Wilson. I think Roger Goodell is convinced.'

Earlier, Paolantonio reported on a key factor in the potential sale of the Buffalo Bills via CBS Sports' Will Brinson on Twitter:

Updates from Sunday, July 20

ESPN.com provided additional details surrounding Jon Bon Jovi's pursuit of the Buffalo Bills franchise:

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.

Updates from Thursday, July 10

Jim Kelly spoke about the sale of the Buffalo Bills with Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com:

A number of people have approached Kelly about his potential involvement, but as of now the Hall of Fame quarterback is not a part of any group that will be bidding on the team. He didn't want to get into specifics on who he's met with at this point.

"I'm just doing what I can to make sure the Bills stay in Buffalo," Kelly said. "Things really haven't changed. Yes, I've met with different people. I hope it gets to a point where we get somebody that's really committed to Buffalo and to turning this program. And to play football in January.

"I'm tired of playing games in December, I'm used to playing in January. Let's get this thing turned around."

Updates from Wednesday, July 9

Adam Benigni of WGRZ (NBC) in Buffalo provides the latest on who his sources believe will purchase the Bills:

Updates from Thursday, July 3

John Kryk of Canoe.ca reported the latest on the Bills' sale:

According to a source in the position to know, who requested anonymity, the trust began informing prospective purchasers who have signed the non-disclosure agreement how to download the sale book — officially called the “offering memorandum” — via a secured website.


The sale book contains confidential summary information regarding the Bills franchise and the NFL — most importantly, financial details such as revenues, assets, operational costs, prospects of future revenue and liabilities.

Updates from Wednesday, July 2

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has the latest on the Bills' potential sale:

 Terry and Kim Pegula have hired a powerful sports broker to handle their interest in the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo News has confirmed Steve Greenberg, managing director of elite investment bank Allen & Company, is representing the Pegulas as they investigate becoming NFL owners.

Greenberg's presence is the biggest sign yet of the Pegulas' attraction to the Bills. They already own the Buffalo Sabres.

The Pegulas have not declared publicly whether they will bid on the Bills. The team has been for sale since shortly after founder Ralph Wilson's death in March.

Updates from Tuesday, July 1

John Kyrk of the Toronto Sun has the latest on the Bills sale:

Edward Rogers III will not lead a second Toronto bid group aiming to buy the Buffalo Bills, QMI Agency has learned.

And the one Toronto group there is apparently has begun to get out the message that it will not -- repeat, not -- relocate the team from Western New York.

Quite the news day.

First, Rogers. According to QMI Agency sources, the deputy chairman of the Canadian telecommunications and media empire that bears his family's name has decided not to lead his own bid group, as has been speculated, reported and even presumed by some.

Rogers was not immediately available to comment on Monday night.

Updates from Monday, June 30

Howard Simon of WGR provides a synopsis of Ron Jaworski discussing Jon Bon Jovi's potential relocation plans with for the Bills if he were to become owner:

Updates from Wednesday, June 25

Donald Trump took to Twitter to state his case for owning the Bills:

Meanwhile, New York governor Andrew Cuomo doubted Trump's claims, according to Robert J. McCarthy of The Buffalo News:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday he is “not convinced” of the need for a new stadium once the Buffalo Bills are sold, while dismissing Manhattan billionaire Donald J. Trump’s claim that only he among prospective bidders for the team is committed to keeping it in Western New York.


Meanwhile, the governor essentially denied the substance of Trump’s Tuesday tweet claiming that all others are not committed to retaining the team in Buffalo.

“I know, at this point, a number of bidders who are seriously considering going forward who are committed to keeping the team in Western New York,” Cuomo said.


Cuomo sounded a playful note when asked about Trump’s tweet. “Then it must be true. Who would argue with that?” Cuomo said when told what Trump had tweeted. “Besides the source, what’s your question?”

He ducked a question about whether he considered Trump a serious bidder for the team.

“I don’t want to characterize what I think of him,” the governor said. “But I didn’t see his tweet. Let’s put it that way.”

Updates from Friday, June 20

Ian Mohr and Stephanie Smith of the New York Post have the latest on the Bills' sale:

Jon Bon Jovi may be moving closer to becoming an NFL team owner.

The “Livin’ on a Prayer” rocker, who’s interested in buying the Buffalo Bills, had a two-hour lunch with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York on Thursday.

“They were definitely talking business,” said a source, who reports the duo dined at power spot Fresco by Scotto.

“Jon was taking notes — he had a pen and paper with him at the table.”

WGR 550 has more in a statement from the Sabres on the Peligula's interest in the team:

“Terry and Kim Pegula have a deep commitment to Buffalo and Western New York.  Their ownership of the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans and the construction of HARBORCENTER are evidence of that fact.  Like everyone else in this community, they have a strong desire to have the Buffalo Bills remain a centerpiece of this region.  Accordingly, they have been following the developments involving the sale of the Bills.  However, out of respect for the process being conducted by representatives of the Wilson Estate and the Bills, they will not be making any additional comments about the sale process.”

Updates from Thursday, June 19

John Wawrow of The Associated Press provided the next step in the sale of the Buffalo Bills:

A person familiar with the Buffalo Bills' sale process has told The Associated Press a law firm representing late owner Ralph Wilson's estate has started contacting prospective ownership groups.

The person said Thursday that prospective owners began receiving a seven-page non-disclosure agreement, and a brief outline of background material on the Bills franchise. The documents were distributed by Proskauer Rose, the legal firm overseeing the sale.

Updates from Friday, June 13

The Associated Press has the latest on potential new owners for the Bills:

Two people involved in discussions have told The Associated Press the family of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is proposing to build a stadium to secure the Buffalo Bills' future in the region.

They say executives of Jacobs' Buffalo-based Delaware North hospitality company are to meet with at least one ownership group and members of a firm hired by New York state to evaluate potential stadium sites.

Updates from Thursday, June 12

Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reports if Terry Pegula becomes interested in purchasing the Bills, he will have more money to bid with than previously anticipated after a recent business deal:

Pegula's liquidity is flowing strong after his East Resources Inc. and at least one other undisclosed company sold 75,000 acres of Utica and Marcellus Shale leases in West Virginia and Ohio for $1.75 billion.

'This does make him a much more formidable bidder if he chooses to move forward,' a sports acquisitions expert told The Buffalo News on the condition of anonymity.

Mike Rodak of ESPN provided information on another interested buyer:

With the Buffalo Bills inching closer to being put on the market, Pabst Brewing Company owner C. Dean Metropoulos has emerged as a potential bidder.

Metropoulos' son, Daren, confirmed his family's interest in the team to ESPN.

"An NFL team is of serious interest to my family and we love the Bills brand," Metropoulos said.

Updates from Wednesday, May 28

John Wawrow of the Associated Press provides the latest on the Buffalo Bills' search for a new owner:

People involved with the negotiations say billionaire Tom Golisano has met with Buffalo Bills officials and public leaders, and informed them of his interest in purchasing the franchise.

A person says Golisano, the former Buffalo Sabres owner and failed gubernatorial candidate from Rochester, New York, also has had talks with developer Scott Congel to be as his partner in the potential ownership group. The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Golisano has not publicly announced his plans.

Updates from Thursday, May 22

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported more details on the timetable for a potential sale:

Updates from Wednesday, May 21

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News passed along an update regarding the financial and legal firms that will handle the sale of the team to a new owner:

Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com had more from the franchise after the announcement:

It is anticipated that the transaction team will begin contacting prospective buyers within the next 30 days.

“We are pleased to have been able to assemble, as our transaction team, two experienced and talented firms in the specialized field of sports mergers and acquisitions, Morgan Stanley and Proskauer Rose, to be involved in our sale process,” said Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon.

In an appearance on Bills flagship radio station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday morning Brandon, who had just wrapped up his responsibilities at the NFL spring league meetings in Atlanta, outlined how things will proceed from this point.

“The sales process will move forward,” Brandon said. “This will really begin the vetting process of the sale. The bank will go through all the interested parties and vet them.”

Brandon would only characterize interest in purchasing the Buffalo Bills as very high as he declined to discuss how many prospective buyers are included in the new ownership pool.

“I know that we will go about our business in a very methodical manner and keep the league, the state and the county updated on a consistent basis,” said Brandon. “I’m very focused and I think our organization is very focused so that we can provide the needed deliverables to the National Football League.”

Updates from Tuesday, May 20

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News updated the landscape surrounding the sale of the Buffalo Bills:

Buffalo Bills suitors will be able to make bids to buy the team rather soon.

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon today gave some updates on the sale process while taking a break from the NFL's annual spring meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.

The Bills are close to naming the investment bank and legal firm that will handle the sale and make a recommendation to the trust that has been overseeing the club since Ralph Wilson's death in March.

"By the end of the month," Brandon said of selecting the bank. He later added it could happen within the next few days.

"We are closing in on it," Brandon said.

Graham also had more information on a prospective buyer for the Bills:

Judy Battista of NFL.com had more on the Bills' future in Buffalo under new ownership:

Updates from Sunday, May 4

John Wawrow of the Associated Press reports when fans could expect the Bills to have a new owner:

The Buffalo Bills could identify a new owner within three months, leading Gov. Andrew Cuomo's stepping up the state's efforts to secure the franchise's long-term future in the region.

A person familiar with the sale process told The Associated Press on Saturday there is an anticipation that the Bills' could be sold by July, and the sale approved by NFL owners as early as the league's meetings in October. The same person and another person also told the AP that at least one prospective ownership group has already toured potential new stadium locations in Buffalo.

Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because the sale process has not been made public.

Updates from Friday, April 11

John Kryk of Canoe.ca has the latest on Bon Jovi's interest in the Bills:

Jon Bon Jovi indeed wants to become an NFL owner, and it’s true he’s part a Toronto group expected to bid for the Buffalo Bills, Sun Media has learned.

On Thursday, the personal publicist for Jon Bon Jovi confirmed that the Livin’ on a Prayer singer is a player.

“Jon remains passionate in his pursuit of an NFL franchise,” publicist Ken Sunshine told Sun Media via e-mail.

Sunshine would not elaborate, nor comment on reports linking Bon Jovi to any group bidding on the Bills, based in Toronto or elsewhere.

But a Toronto source in the position to know, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sun Media that reports from last November, echoed Thursday morning by Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei, remain accurate. That Bon Jovi is the face of a Toronto-based group intent on obtaining an NFL franchise, via relocation, and expected to bid for the Bills.

Updates from Thursday, April 10

Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei reports Jon Bon Jovi is expected to have interest in becoming owner of the Buffalo Bills:

NFL honchos expect rocker Jon Bon Jovi to make a push to purchase the Bills, perhaps in concert with Maple Leafs magnate Larry Tanenbaum. Bon Jovi is connected with Tanenbaum and Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Group. There were rumors about Bon Jovi wanting to purchase the team before Ralph Wilson's death, but the team was not for sale then. It is now. There are expected to be other bidders as well, and a primary factor in who gets the team is going to be where the Bills will call home. If one of the ownership groups can get a stadium built in Buffalo, that group may have the edge. It is possible the Bon Jovi group may want to relocate to Toronto—or even Los Angeles. Lieweke previously was involved with the L.A. Kings and tried to bring an NFL team there before.

John Kryk of the Toronto Sun briefly spoke with Bon Jovi's publicist Ken Sunshine about the possibility: “Jon remains passionate in his pursuit of an NFL franchise”. 

Updates from Monday, April 7

TMZ's Staff provided a synopsis of NFL legend Joe Theisman discussing the possibility of Donald Trump being owners of the Buffalo Bills:

Theisman was out in Virginia this weekend when we asked how he thinks the Donald would fare if he took over the team -- and Joe seemed pretty excited about the idea. 

In fact, the Washington Redskins legend pointed to Donald's enormous success with the Doral golf course in Florida -- explaining how Trump took a "tired golf course" and quickly turned it into something special.

Updates from Sunday, April 6

Jerry Zremski, Mark Gaughan and Robert J. McCarthy of The Buffalo News provided a statement from Senator Charles E. Schumer discussing the future of the Bills:

What’s more, several business leaders with local connections and deep enough pockets have expressed interest in buying the Bills. Highly placed sources say that the Jacobs family, owner of Delaware North Companies, leads the list of potential local suitors.

“I am even more optimistic this week than I was last week that we can keep the Bills in Buffalo,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who serves on the Bills’ new stadium working group. Schumer would not discuss any potential buyers for the Bills. But, he assured, “We have a lot of tools in our tool kit.”

Zremski, Gaughan and McCarthy continued:

Jeremy M. Jacobs Sr. is worth a reported $3.1 billion as chairman and chief executive officer of Buffalo-based Delaware North, one of the world’s largest concession companies.


Jacobs’ ownership of the NHL’s Boston Bruins could prove to be a stumbling block, given that NFL rules bar teams from being owned by people who own franchises in other sports leagues unless that other team is located in the same city as the NFL franchise.

Could one or more of Jacobs’ sons buy the Bills? If they divested themselves of any holdings in the Bruins and removed themselves from any position with that team, it’s possible, an NFL source told The News. However, it would depend on an evaluation of the specifics of the deal, that source said. 

Original Text

The Buffalo Bills are for sale, and a deal may just go down much earlier than people are expecting. 

Mary Wilson assumed control of the organization after her late husband, Ralph Wilson Jr., passed away last week, per The Buffalo News' Tim Graham. However, according to Graham, that move was simply a formality and should only help expedite the process in finding a new owner:

A sale must be approved by 75 percent of the owners, and that vote could take place as early as their annual October session. The Bills will start evaluating offers within the next few months.

The source said a more likely timetable to vote on the Bills' sale would occur later than that -- perhaps at the annual labor meeting in December or the annual owners meetings in March -- but October is possible.

An early candidate to buy the team is billionaire Donald Trump, who told WBEN 930-AM, via ESPN's Mike Rodak, that he is interested in making the purchase so he can keep the franchise right where it is:

I know so many people in Buffalo, and they have asked me about looking at that and I certainly would look at it, but I would ... if it were me, I'd keep the team in Buffalo. I think it's something that is really vital to the area. ... It would be catastrophic, in my opinion, if Buffalo lost the Buffalo Bills.

Speculation about the Bills' future in Buffalo has been running rampant, and many believe that the next owner will do his or her best to get out of the current lease and move the team elsewhere. As such, the comments from Trump—who certainly has the assets to purchase the Bills—have to be encouraging for Bills fans.

Bills legend Andre Reed, via TMZ's Twitter feed, certainly likes the idea:

Still, Trump isn't a realistic option at this point.

According to Graham, NFL owners aren't allowed to have gambling interests, but Trump owns the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. 

Going forward, it will be interesting to see what names arise as potential buyers. Cities like Toronto and Los Angeles have been clamoring to bring in an NFL team, and this presents a prime opportunity to do so. 

Don't expect Buffalo to simply fold, though. The Bills have an extensive history dating back to the AFL in the 1960s, and you can bet there will be plenty of individuals with deep pockets looking to keep the team in Western New York. 


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