WASHINGTON – There have been three nonbinding bids for the Buffalo Bills, according to Forbes magazine, and Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s bid of $890 million is the highest.
The Forbes report, citing sources familiar with the sale of the Bills franchise, indicates the Toronto group including Larry Tanenbaum, Jon Bon Jovi and Ed Rogers bid $820 million and Donald Trump’s bid was $809 million.
Previously, Forbes estimated the Bills are worth $935 million, making them the second-least valuable team in the NFL. The report also stressed the Bills will not move to another market even though they are up for sale.
The new estimate was up by $65 million, or 7.5 percent, from the Forbes figure of a year ago. Of all 32 NFL teams, only the St. Louis Rams – valued at $930 million – ranked lower than the Bills.
Forbes also said the Bills had revenues of $252 million and an operating income of $38 million, far short of the $560 million in revenue and $246 million in operating income enjoyed by the Dallas Cowboys, the league’s most valuable team.
Still, Forbes remains bullish on the Bills’ future in Buffalo.
“Whoever buys the Bills will most certainly keep the team in Buffalo,” the magazine said. “The terms of the 10-year lease the team agreed to with Erie County last year requires anyone moving the Bills to pay the county $400 million should the team move before the end of the 2019 season. It also allows the public entities to get a court injunction preventing the Bills from moving.”
The Bills are currently up for sale following the death in March of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
Forbes writer Mike Ozanian predicted that the Rams and Oakland Raiders will eventually move to a new stadium in their former home, Los Angeles, which is currently without an NFL team. Both the Rams and Raiders have leases that would allow them to move after this season, as do the San Diego Chargers.
Forbes also noted, though, that the Bills’ lease includes a clause that permits the Bills to terminate the deal after the seventh year, 2020, for a comparably small $28.4 million penalty.
The Cowboys once again topped the Forbes list of the league’s most valuable franchises, at $3.2 billion. The New England Patriots ranked second, at $2.6 billion, and the Washington Redskins came in third, at $2.4 billion.
“There is a widening wealth gap in the NFL due to the piles of cash big market teams generate from modern stadiums and the premium a buyer would be willing to pay for entry into the most elite U.S. sports league in a big city,” Forbes said.
Forbes said it calculated its estimates based on data and other information from sports bankers, several NFL team executives, financial reports by companies such as Fitch and Moody’s, trade publications, consulting firms and stadium leases.