For Sale: A Slightly Used Football Team! (May Need New Stadium)

for sale

Buffalo Bills

 

 

 

 

If the Buffalo Bills were listed for sale in the classifieds, the ad might look something like this:

For Sale: An NFL team built in 1960; only 1 previous owner and has quintupled in value since its inception. Comes with a newly renovated stadium consisting of 130 million in upgrades. A loyal fan base, alumni and a 15 year playoff draught. The franchise does hold the record for most consecutive Super Bowl appearances, the greatest comeback in NFL history, and two championships from the AFL days. Asking price is negotiable. All interested buyers please submit a bid and portfolio through the legal office of Proskauer Rose with all bids being screened and processed by Morgan Stanley.

Koo-Ko-Cho-Chu, Ballmer payed 1.6 Billion Dollars for the L.A. Clippers! Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo, Ballmer payed 1.6 Billion Dollars for the L.A. Clippers! Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

 

Whenever a sports teams goes up for sale, every media outlet picks out its three to five guys they know for sure will buy the team. However, we just saw that someone like Steve Ballmer, the Ex CEO of Microsoft who just won the bid on the LA clippers, can come out of nowhere to be an owner of a team. To complicate matters for the Bills, Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that he feels the Bills need a new stadium in order to remain in Western New York, which has sparked the debate on where they could move. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in Bills Nation knows the short term protection the lease with Erie County provides (if not check it out HERE). So where does that leave Buffalo? There are reports there are as many as 30 different people/groups showing interest in buying the team but I’m not going to list everyone out there with at least $1.2 billion or more to spend on a team. Here’s my list of potential buyers with a little background on who they are, how much they are worth, and how serious I think they are.

Phil Anschutz knows how to build a winner! Photo via www.forbes.com

Phil Anschutz knows how to build a winner! Photo via http://www.forbes.com

Let’s start with those who are not from Buffalo and may have aspirations of moving the team elsewhere. Los Angeles is on the list for cities hoping to land an NFL team. They went from having the Raiders and Rams to having none. A man who is looking to change that is Phil Anschutz who is worth around $10 Billion. He helped fund Major League Soccer and owns Anshutz Entertainment Group, which also happens to have built the Staples Center in LA and the O2 Arena in London. The guy also happens to have a $1.5 billion land deal in place with LA pending a commitment to bring an NFL franchise there. Good news is that the guy is said to be looking for a bargain deal, and he won’t be getting that from Buffalo.

C. Dean Metropoulos is an interesting wild card. He’s worth about $1.2 billion but he has made some interesting moves by selling Bumblebee Tuna and Chef Boyardee in 2000 for $2.9 Billion. He then purchased Pabst Brewing Co. in 2011 and Partnered with another group to buy Hostess out of bankruptcy. In 2011, he also tried to buy the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise but was outbid by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan, their current owner. He has been up to bat once already and is familiar with the process. He could make for a dangerous player as we get down to the final bidders.

Jon-Bon-Jovi? Not likely! Photo via www.sofeminine.co.uk

Jon-Bon-Jovi? Not likely!
Photo via http://www.sofeminine.co.uk

Jon Bon Jovi and his partner Larry Tanenbaum, who is Chairman of the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Air Canada Centre. Bon Jovi alone is only worth about $290 million but Tanenbaum is worth about $2 Billion. Already being a part of the Canadian professional sports market, it would make sense they would want to own in the NFL market as well to have the trifecta. They also fit into the regionalization plan the Bills have focused on over the past decade. Moving training camp to St John Fisher to attract the Rochester/Syracuse market and partnering with Rogers Communication for the Toronto series. However, the Toronto series has been less than spectacular on both sides of the border. Canadian fans complain of high ticket prices and lack luster performances by the Bills (As they have only won once), leading to the majority of the fans showing up as a neutral party or to see other players on the opposite team. Russ Brandon stated this offseason that the Toronto series is under review and they won’t be playing a preseason game there this year. The Toronto experiment is a positive thing for Bills Nation regarding relocation, because if Bon Jovi and Tanenbaum purchase the team, they have to figure out how to make it much more successful than it has been for it to make business sense with the added costs of a new stadium, the current lease length, moving penalties etc. Moving to the Greater Toronto Area may be a pipe dream, but having a Canadian owner may not be. Bon Jovi has been trying for years to buy a true pro team and this may be his best chance.

The Don? Ehh....... No! Photo via www.firstcoastnews.com

The Don? Ehh……. No! Photo via http://www.firstcoastnews.com

Donald Trump has been throwing his name around a lot in New York State for the past few years in local and national politics and now as a possible owner of the Bills. But every time it turns out to be just talk. To me, this is no different. I personally have no respect for Trump and don’t want him to have anything to do with the Bills or politics. No one can really even pin point how much he’s really worth, it could be $150 million to $7 Billion. Trump was involved in the failed United States Football League. Many people believe Trump was one of the main factors the USFL failed. Trump inherited his wealth from his father, and by the 1990’s, Trumps company was $7 Billion upside down. But somehow shady back end deals with something like 70 banks and bankruptcy allowed him to clear his debts. Over the last decade he has made a way of marketing his own brand with phony reality type TV shows. Trump could partner with Kelly and be a behind the scenes player–but with Trump you can’t trust anything he says, so it’s hard to gauge the seriousness of him going in on the Bills.

Robert Rich Jr. is a serious local candidate! Photo via the www.therichest.com

Robert Rich Jr. is a serious local candidate! Photo via the http://www.therichest.com

Moving on from the more national and international bidders, there are several local bidders that are most likely to land the team starting with Robert Rich, Jr. who owns Rich’s products. He is worth about $3 Billion and tried hard to bring a major league baseball team to Buffalo in the 80’s. He hasn’t publicly stated he’s interested, but I know everyone in Bills Nation wouldn’t mind a return of Rich Stadium. The Jacobs family has shown interest and are worth about $3 Billion. They own the Delaware North company and Jeremy Jacobs, Sr. owns the Boston Bruins, so they have experience in pro sports ownership. However, owning the Bruins also poses a problem for owning the Bills, as you can’t own two teams in different markets. The Jacobs family would have to have a work around in order to buy the team. If they don’t make a bid to own the team, they want to be a part of it some other way. After all, Delaware North is the world’s largest concession company, and every stadium needs concessions. Newcomer and Doubleline Capital CEO, Jeffery E. Gundlach, a local Amherst native, has recently come out saying he is going to try very hard to buy the team. Reports are he is worth $600 to 800 million and has contacted Jim Kelly about partnering with him and his group. I would place him as an underdog for landing the winning bid.

 

Terry and Kim are very interested in owning the Bills! - Photo Via The Buffalo News

Terry and Kim are very interested in owning the Bills! – Photo Via The Buffalo News

The two front runners, I believe, are Tom Golisano and Terry Pegula. Golisano is worth about $2 Billion. He planned on partnering with Syracuse developer Scott Congel, who has land in West Seneca, to place a joint bid, but that has since fell through. As we all know, Golisano saved the Sabres from bankruptcy and possible relocation, but many fans believe his tight pocketbook-type managing lead to the departure of Briere, Drury and Campbell and ruined any chances of a Stanley Cup in order to keep making marginal profits running the team. Terry Pegula, the current Sabres owner, on the other hand, has an open pocketbook policy. He is also all about creating an environment that people want to come and be a part of. He is a huge Buffalo fan and has done a lot of positive things with the Sabres. Throw in the Harbor Center development and one can only imagine what he could do as the Bills owner as well.

Tom Golisano is also a serious buyer for the Bills! Photo Via www.buffalonews.com

Tom Golisano is also a serious buyer for the Bills! Photo Via http://www.buffalonews.com

So who do you think should buy or not buy the Bills? Anyone not listed that you would like to see make a bid? Leave a comment and as always let me know what you think.

By

Jason Sinsabaugh

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