Jon Bon Jovi is not looking to buy the Buffalo Bills or move them to Toronto.
Bon Jovi’s publicist Ken Sunshine told the Associated Press Monday morning that his client has too much respect for Bills owner and founder Ralph Wilson to make him an offer at this time.
Sunshine’s statement came in response to a story ran by CBSSports.com on Sunday that claimed Bon Jovi has partnered with Larry Tenenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment and the president of the MLSE Tim Leiweke to work out the potential finances and details of where the team would play in Toronto, and in what (possibly new) stadium.
Sunshine called the partnership “preposterous.”
The Buffalo Bills are currently owned by 95 year-old Ralph Wilson Jr. and is valued at $870 million, according to Forbes. Wilson has vowed not to sell the team while he is alive to see them play. After Wilson’s death, the team will not be turned over to his family, and instead be put up for sale.
In December of 2012 the Buffalo Bills signed a contract with Erie County to renew their lease on Ralph Wilson stadium for another 10 years. Attached to this contract was a buyout clause extended to 2020: whoever owns the Bills at the time would have to shell out $400 million to move the team before the end of this decade. After 2020, it would only cost the Bills owner $28 million.
The jockeying of potential buyers has already started here in Toronto.
Rogers Media has close ties to the Bills. The media company signed a deal with the NFL franchise in 2008 to bring the football club north of the border for one game a year at Rogers Centre. The Atlanta Falcons will play the Bills this Sunday in the fifth game of the Bills in Toronto Series. The ties between the two organizations have caused speculation among the Toronto media that Rogers will be first in line to purchase the team.
The Rogers family is worth an estimated $7.6 billion according to a report released by Canadian Business magazine on the richest families in the country. The Rogers are fourth.
Still, it might be too soon to rule out Tenenbaum and Leiweke making a bid for the Bills, with Bon Jovi as their public frontman, despite Sunshine’s denial. The trio have been photographed at a Raptors game in October of this year. Leiweke has tried (and failed) to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles. Bon Jovi has said he wants to own an NFL team in the past, and the singers publicist did not deny Bon Jovi isn’t still seeking out his ambition.
All three combined have the capital buy and move the team. Tenenbaum has the Toronto sporting connections, Leiweke has the ability to build a new stadium for the team, and Bon Jovi is the necessary figurehead needed to purchase an NFL franchise. According to an official league stipulation, a team must be owned by an individual, not an organization.
“Jon and I are very good friends,” Leiweke told the Toronto Star. “We talk weekly about his NFL ambitions. And so we’re actively engaged, but I think it’s still a work in progress.”
The Buffalo Bills game coming up on Sunday could be a look into the future for the city of Toronto. For now, mums the word for all parties involved.