The Toronto-based group bidding to buy the Buffalo Bills has lost its American face, but may have boosted its chances of landing the NFL team, according to a report.
Jon Bon Jovi is out of the running to buy the Buffalo Bills, the New York Post reported Friday.
A spokesman for Bon Jovi didn’t immediately return an email from the Star seeking comment.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that Bon Jovi’s partners — MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Rogers Communications chairman Edward Rogers — feel they’re in a stronger position to land the NFL team without the rocker, whose net worth has been estimated at $300 million.
“Rogers is very serious” about buying the team, another source told the Post.
Bon Jovi has reportedly only been interested in being the principal owner of the team. According to NFL rules, that means he must have at least a 30 per cent stake. That, combined with a $200-million limit on borrowed money which can be used to finance an ownership bid, meant that the Toronto-based group’s bidding would be capped at around $1.1 billion.
The Toronto group’s initial bid is believed to be lower than that of Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, but higher than that of New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump.
While Rogers and Tanenbaum may believe their bid is stronger without Bon Jovi, the New Jersey-born rocker also may have had his own reasons for wanting out.
Since joining forces with Tanenbaum and Rogers, Bon Jovi has been the subject of heated criticism in the Buffalo area, where fans are convinced his partners were going to move the Bills to Toronto.
Some local radio stations and bars had Bon Jovi boycotts, while a Buffalo poster shop had a T-shirt with a checklist of dead dictators and Osama Bin Laden. Bon Jovi’s name was also on the shirt — his was the only name on the shirt that didn’t have a checkmark beside it.
A U.S. economist who specializes in studying the economics of professional sports told the Star last month the Bills would be worth up to $1.6 billion if they’re moved to Toronto.
That means the Toronto bidding group could move as high as $1.5 billion and still be financially justified, says Vanderbilt University’s John Vrooman. But with Bon Jovi in their group, they couldn’t go that high.
Vrooman says the Bills are worth just below $1 billion at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but up to $1.3 billion in a new stadium in the Buffalo area, or $1.6 billion if they’re moved to Toronto.
Anyone moving the Bills from Buffalo before their lease expires in 2022 would be hit with $400 million in penalties (although there’s a $28-million escape clause after the 2019 season).
The Bills were put up for sale after the death of long-time owner Ralph Wilson earlier this year.
- With files from Star wire services