SBD/November 26, 2013/Franchises

Publicist Says Jon Bon Jovi Has Not Had Any Discussions With Bills Or Erie County

Bon Jovi's PR team stopped short of denying he was interested in an NFL team
Jon Bon Jovi's publicist Ken Sunshine yesterday responded to reports Bon Jovi has had discussions to purchase the Bills by saying it is "preposterous to say he's had any discussions" with the Bills and Erie County, according to Curtis Rush of the TORONTO STAR. Sunshine: "The Bills are not for sale and (Bon Jovi) has too much respect for (owner Ralph) Wilson to engage in any discussions of buying the team." Bon Jovi's PR team "chose its words carefully" in a statement and declined further comment, but Sunshine "didn't deny the rocker has interest in becoming an NFL owner, or that he had spoken to MLSE about it." Experts said that any capital that Bon Jovi "has built up with NFL power brokers could have been put at risk with a premature leak." Univ. of Toronto sports marketing professor Richard Powers said, "He risks offending the most successful sports franchise in the world (the NFL)" (TORONTO STAR, 11/26). Erie County Exec Mark Poloncarz yesterday said, "I certainly encourage Mr. Bon Jovi's interest if he's looking to keep the team in town. If he's interested in partnering with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group to move a team to Toronto, my response to him is: Go find another team. It's not going to be the Buffalo Bills" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/26).

WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY? In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes, "There are two giant caveats here, one in place and one the principals involved discussed privately to make anything real now or for the future." The NFL "has to approve of the sale of the Bills, when and if the franchise is sold." The league can "basically handpick the next owner of the team," so if the NFL "doesn't want Bon Jovi, he's out." The NFL does not "like stories being leaked about teams being sold and moved," and they "don't like end-arounds." While the NFL has "declared Toronto part of 'Bills territory,'" the Bills "aren't going anywhere" until Wilson passes. Also, the lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium "has an out" in '19, and the NFL "will not approve a Toronto franchise that will in any way do damage" to the CFL. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "born in Western New York, has been clear on that" (TORONTO SUN, 11/26).
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