Even on their bye week, the Buffalo Bills can still be a hot topic.
The latest news stirring up fans Sunday came from a national report about a potentially interested buyer.
Musician Jon Bon Jovi has his eye on purchasing the Bills, according to a report from CBS Sports.
CBS said the rock star has spent considerable time in the area, as well as in “getting to know politicians and power brokers” and has ties to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the group that owns the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs and that is a significant player in the Toronto region.
While the future of Buffalo’s National Football League team after owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. dies remains a subject of speculation, CBS reported that “sources said Bon Jovi is aiming to be the principal owner – it remains to be seen if he has the type of immense capital necessary to meet that threshold of ownership – and has aligned himself with several power brokers in his effort to turn his dream into reality.”
But the report also notes that NFL sources say Rogers Communications, a media conglomerate worth billions, is the “prime suitor” for the franchise.
The Bills already have a deal with Rogers Communications and have been playing games in Toronto since 2008. This year’s game in Rogers Centre will be Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bon Jovi, a 51-year-old New Jersey native, was part of a group that founded an Arena Football League franchise in Philadelphia in 2004. A 2009 post on the New York Times’ The Fifth Down blog described him as a longtime New York Giants fan and a season-ticket holder. At the time, he indicated he would be interested in exploring ownership of an NFL team.
“Yeah, why do you think I’m getting this education?” he told The Fifth Down blog about his Arena League experience.
In a statement issued Sunday, the Bills said:
“Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. is the founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills franchise. The organization does not respond to reports of the interest other parties may have in ownership of the franchise or of speculation concerning various groups that may have such interest.”
Bills officials have stressed that Wilson, 95, is committed to keeping the team in Buffalo. As recently as October, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said, “Everyone is motivated to keep this franchise viable here for generations to come.”
Bon Jovi’s public relations representative, Sunshine Sachs, declined to comment.
The Bills have a lease with Erie County and New York State for Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park that started this season and extends through the 2022 season. The deal gives the county and state nearly an ironclad guarantee that the Bills will remain here at least through 2019. If the team wanted to break the lease before that season, it would have to pay $400 million.
The report of the singer’s interest got mixed reaction on Twitter, which included a fair share of jokes based on Bon Jovi song references. It appeared that many on Twitter weren’t sure how to react right away, but his fans fell in love with the idea.
Others weren’t so excited.
“Bon Jovi can buy the #Bills if he doesn’t move them and if he NEVER plays at the stadium, thanks,” one tweeter said.
Some football fans watching the early afternoon Sunday game at Bada Bing Sports Bar & Grill at Delaware Avenue and West Chippewa Street were warm to the possibility of Bon Jovi owning the Bills.
“I think it’d be great, as long as he keeps it in Buffalo,” said Bill Koessler, of Derby, who said he thought Bon Jovi would have the money to do it.
“I think he certainly would put a little more pizazz to the ownership than we’ve had in the past with Ralph Wilson,” Koessler said. “So I’d be all for it. I think it’d be great.”
Kansas City Chiefs fans Erica Burleson and Dustin Hundley are in town from Kansas City for Thanksgiving.
“I don’t even know what to say about that,” said Burleson, whose family lives in North Tonawanda.
Hundley, who said such a move could be a positive were it to infuse more dollars into the team, agreed the possibility of Bon Jovi buying the Bills is hard to fathom.
“It’s kind of a little crazy,” he said.