Bon Jovi may soon be the owner of the Toronto Bills.
The rocker has expressed interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, and though insiders said he does not plan on relocating the team, new reports indicate that he wants them to move north of the border.
Bon Jovi is leading a group of Toronto-based investors who will be bidding on the Buffalo Bills, a group that recently conducted a feasibility study for buying an NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto.
“We have undertaken engineering and design studies,” wrote Andy Bergmann, co-founder of Toronto-based Wessex Capital Partners, a firm that specializing in architecture, design and engineering services. “All of our work has been about a generic site and whether it was more rural or urban. We are aware of potential sites in the western NY and southern Ontario region, and are in fact meeting with two Buffalo area developers next week.
“No feasibility studies have been undertaken on any site to date.”
It is seen as a curious move considering the team has an ironclad 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, just outside the city of Buffalo. The lease also forbids the team — including the late owner Ralph Wilson’s estate — from negotiating with anyone who, to their knowledge, plans on relocating the team before the end of the lease in 2022.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he believes that Bon Jovi definitely wants the Toronto Bills if his group had the winning bid.
“It is my personal opinion that any bid associated with the Toronto group has a long-term interest in moving the team to Toronto,” Poloncarz said.
But there may be a way that Bon Jovi can move the Bills to Toronto while still adhering to the lease, beat writer Tim Graham noted.
Toronto is within 90 miles of Buffalo and considered Buffalo’s NFL territory. Moving the team there might not be considered relocation.
— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) April 29, 2014
Moving the team would be an expensive endeavor. The team’s value was estimated by Forbes at $870 million, but the bidding is expected to top $1 billion. Building a new stadium, especially in Toronto, would likely add another $800 million to $900 million.
If Bon Jovi wants the Toronto Bills, he may have some fierce competition. There are several other potential bidders, including Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who just made $1.4 billion from selling oil-producing property.