After a week of reflection, Jon Bon Jovi’s group will submit an adjusted bid to buy the Buffalo Bills, sources close to the group have told The Buffalo News.
Bon Jovi’s original bid was rejected last week, the Toronto Sun reported Tuesday. But that initial offer was deemed financially insufficient and didn’t include enough assurances about the Bills’ long-term future in Western New York.
Sources close to the rock star and his Toronto-based partners told The News that some of Bon Jovi’s influential National Football League allies have suggested that he walk away from the sale because the process has damaged his reputation.
But another line of thinking is that pulling out would leave a bad impression, too, and that Bon Jovi wants to see the process through.
Representatives for Bon Jovi and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment did not immediately respond when asked to comment.
Meanwhile, sources close to the sale insist that the pursuit of the team by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, has been flawless so far.
Sources involved in the sales process and within the NFL say the Pegulas’ approach to bidding on the team has underscored their desirability as potential owners of the team.
While the Pegulas have remained silent, Bon Jovi and Manhattan billionaire developer Donald J. Trump appear to have violated terms of the nondisclosure agreement by going public with their interest in buying the Bills.
Bon Jovi is considered NFL ownership material, but it has become clear in league circles that his future almost certainly will be with another team. His involvement in the Bills sale has become toxic because he is aligned with Toronto partners who have wanted to bring a team to Canada.
Bon Jovi’s open letter printed in Sunday’s editions of The News was considered a public relations disaster. One representative from another ownership group called it “ridiculous.” One of Bon Jovi’s allies said it was “stupid.” Many fans remain suspicious because the letter offered no guarantees.
Bon Jovi’s chances seem bleaker with the Sun report that his group’s nonbinding initial bid was rejected. The group reportedly didn’t offer enough money or enough assurances that the Bills would remain in Western New York.
Sources familiar with Bon Jovi’s group say he still insists on being principal owner of a team. For that to happen, the NFL constitution and bylaws require that he pay for at least 30 percent of the team.
His Toronto partners – Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Edward Rogers of Rogers Communications – certainly have the financial wherewithal to compete with the Pegulas’ net worth. But sources said there will come a point where Bon Jovi cannot meet the 30 percent threshold and retain organizational control.
Sources have told The News that there has been discussion in the Bon Jovi group about the lofty price that the Pegulas appear willing to pay, probably well above the record $1.1 billion that the Miami Dolphins fetched in 2009.
The Bills are believed be worth such a sticker price in Toronto or Los Angeles, but not in Western New York. Sources also say the Bon Jovi group would be willing to go higher for a different NFL team, but not for one with a valuation in the bottom half of the league.
Morgan Stanley, which is handling the sale, has had difficulty in drumming up sufficient interest in the team. Unless there is a secret suitor, only three parties stepped forward when the nonbinding initial bids were supposed to be submitted July 29.
While those three candidates submitted their nonbinding initial bids by Morgan Stanley’s deadline last week, former Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano reportedly will make an offer whenever he pleases.
The Pegulas appear to be the preferred bidders not only for fans of the team, but also among influential politicians. There would be no likelihood of moving the Bills across the border with them as owners.
In addition, Terry Pegula has already been vetted as a sports team owner by the National Hockey League.
Bon Jovi’s biggest strengths heading into the process were highly placed connections within the league – namely New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.