this June 26, 2014, file photo musician Jon Bon Jovi
performs during a concert of the American rock band Bon Jovi
in Lisbon, Portugal. Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group
that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork
expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, three
people who have reviewed documents regarding the sale
process told The Associated Press on Friday, July 18, 2014.
BUFFALO, N.Y. —
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
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.
responsible for overseeing the Bon Jovi group's stadium plans,
confirmed Thursday in an email to the AP that his company has
conducted stadium studies, "but nothing related to any
undertaken engineering and design studies," wrote Bergmann,
co-founder of Toronto-based Wessex Capital Partners, a growth
equity investment firm that specializes in architecture, design
and engineering services. "All of our work has been about a
generic site and whether it was more rural or urban. We are aware
of potential sites in the western NY and southern Ontario region,
and are in fact meeting with two Buffalo area developers next
feasibility studies have been undertaken on any site to
chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls
the NBA's Raptors and NHL's Maple Leafs. The Rogers family
includes Edward Rogers, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications,
the Toronto-based communications giant.
The Bills are
being sold following the death of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson
Under terms of
the team's lease with the state and county, the Bills —
including Wilson's estate — are not allowed to negotiate with
anyone, who to their knowledge, has an intention of relocating the
team before the end of the 2022 season, when the lease ends.
study was commissioned about 18 months ago and overseen by an
investment bank, the person said, adding that one of the stadium
construction costs was between $800 million and $900 million.
The Bon Jovi
group has not said they would relocate the team, but Erie County
Executive Mark Poloncarz told the AP on Wednesday that he has no
doubt the group's intentions are to move the Bills to Toronto.
"It is my
personal opinion that any bid associated with the Toronto group
has a long-term interest in moving the team to Toronto,"
Poloncarz said, while attending Bills training camp in suburban
Rochester, New York.
New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy posted several notes on his Twitter
account and specifically mentioned Bon Jovi in sending a warning
to any prospective ownership groups that might have plans of
relocating the Bills.
"Note to JBJ:
You will lose fans/all of WNY- forever. Not worth it," Duffy
said, referring to Bon Jovi and western New York. "Note to
prospective owners: BUFFALO Bills. Don't pick this fight."
referred to a clause in the Bills' lease that provides the state
and county an opportunity to seek court action to block
negotiations between the team and any party that has expressed an
intention of relocating the team during the lease. If the legal
action failed and the Bills relocated during the lease, the state
and county would be open to seeking a $400 million penalty as
"It would be
a public relations disaster for any new owner to consider a move-
and the 400m hit," Duffy wrote in a post that included a link
to the AP story.
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.
John Vrooman, a
Vanderbilt professor who specializes in sports economics, said
feasibility studies are standard practice among prospective
ownership groups and there should be no immediate cause for alarm.
He said such studies evaluate expected cash flows and best- and
worst-case risk factors based on location.
the Bills to be valued at between $950 million and $1 billion in
western New York, and about $1.5 billion if they moved to Toronto
and even more in Los Angeles.
The Toronto group
is represented by Goldman Sachs, and is one of at least 10 groups
to have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan
Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale on behalf of
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 next step
prospective bidders must submit to Morgan Stanley what's called
"a first letter of indication," which includes their
initial and non-binding bid to purchase the team, said a person
familiar with the sale process. The person spoke to the AP on the
condition of anonymity because the sale process is private.
The person said
the firm will review the bids and determine which prospective
groups will be eligible to proceed to the next stage of bidding.
The list of
remaining groups allowed to move forward is anticipated to be
identified by the end of next week, the person said. Those groups
will then be granted further access to the Bills financial date to
better determine their bid.
that a prospective owner could be identified by as early as late
August, and be presented to NFL owners for approval during league
meetings in early October.