SBD/April 14, 2014/Franchises

Bills Preparing Portfolio For Potential Buyers As Speculation Of New Owner Grows

Bon Jovi's group reportedly is still interested in buying the Bills
A Trump Organization rep said that Bills execs and the family of late Owner Ralph Wilson Jr. are "interviewing five investment banking firms that will put together a portfolio on the team’s assets" to be studied by prospective buyers, according to Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. Trump Exec VP & Special Counsel Michael Cohen added that the process of selling the team "is essentially at square one." Meanwhile, theories about who could buy the team "have begun exploding -- with pretty much the same set of possibilities as floated over the past couple of years when Wilson’s health began deteriorating." While Bruins Owner and Delaware North Cos. Chair Jeremy Jacobs was thought to be "a leading contender" to buy the team, the company on Friday in statement said he "has no intention of selling the Bruins in order to purchase" the Bills. Musician Jon Bon Jovi reportedly is "still part of a Toronto-based group with an interest in the Bills." It is presumed that the team "would move to Toronto if the group did proceed and was successful in purchasing the Bills." There also is "speculation" that former Sabres Owner B. Thomas Golisano "might want to buy the Bills." Still, there are a "host of complications" in the sale of the Bills, "from the age and condition of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the value of the team, NFL ownership rules and what Mary Wilson, the widow of Ralph Wilson who is now controlling the team, wants to do and when she wants to do it." One "major issue" is how the new owners would "deal with the agreement with the county and state" that requires the team to pay a $400M penalty if the Bills are moved from Western New York in the next seven years (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/12).

WHY DON'T YOU STAY: In Buffalo, Zremski, Gaughan & McCarthy cited legal experts as saying that the provisions of the Bills’ 10-year lease on Ralph Wilson Stadium and "an accompanying non-relocation agreement are so tough that a new owner who wants to move the team would likely be in for a rough encounter with the law." If the Bills’ new owner "violated such an injunction, the owner could be charged with civil or criminal contempt of court" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/13). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote the prospect of moving "still hovers over the franchise, but the forecast isn’t nearly as gloomy as it was expected to be in years past." NBC News' Luke Russert, a Bills fan, said, "What the lease does is it gives the town and the area an effective amount of time to work out a feasible solution. The lease gave everybody who’s a Bills fan somewhat of a new lease on life." Volin noted whomever buys the Bills "is less important than his intentions with the team." Russert said, "If Donald Trump wants to buy the Bills and guarantees the Bills stay in Buffalo, I think we would all welcome Mr. Trump’s ownership. I don't think we really care who owns the team, as long as they’re committed to Buffalo and to the region" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/13).
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