Jon Bon Jovi and the Toronto-based group interested in buying the Buffalo Bills reportedly want to keep the team in Buffalo.
The bidding group consisting of Bon Jovi, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family has said that it is “committed to keeping the NFL franchise in Western New York,” multiple sources told the Toronto Sun on Saturday.
Bon Jovi’s long-rumored interest in buying the Bills was confirmed Friday, when it was reported that the rocker is one of the partners in the Toronto group.
Until Saturday’s report, it had been uncertain whether the group wanted to relocate the team.
“The idea of the ‘Toronto Bills’ is just about dead,” wrote the Sun’s John Kryk.
In recent months, sources said the Toronto group was interested in a stadium site near a racetrack on the outskirts of Toronto.
The Bills’ 10-year lease with Ralph Wilson Stadium, Erie County and New York State, which includes a nonrelocation agreement through 2022, could have been enough to change the group’s mind.
Moving the team during the lease, other than in 2020, when an option to opt out for $28.4 million is available, would result in a $400 million penalty.
National Football League owners may also be reluctant to approve the sale of a team to a group with a stated interest in moving it if relocation would be several years after the purchase.
“There’s nothing that says the NFL will ever give you the right to move it, irrespective of whatever the lease says,” a sports franchise relocation expert told the Sun.
The trust that is running the sale of the Bills following the death earlier this year of longtime owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. recently sent out confidential packages outlining the team’s financial picture.
The current list of potential bidders also is believed to include former Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano, developer Donald Trump, Syracuse mall developer Scott Congel and current Sabres owner Terry Pegula.