The Buffalo Bills sale took a twist late this week with reports that Jim Kelly is entering the fray with a powerful team of investors.
For years Kelly had said publicly that he was lining up a team of potential investors to purchase the team and keep it in Western New York after owner Ralph Wilson’s death. But when bidding began late last month, Kelly was noticeably absent. The only three people to reportedly bid in the opening round of the process were Donald Trump, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, and a group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.
Now it appears the sale process for the Buffalo Bills has opened up with five new bidders, including former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano.
Kelly is reportedly teaming up with bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach, the CEO of DoubleLine Capital and former Buffalo-area resident. Gundlach had said in 2011 that it was his dream to buy the Bills and keep them in Buffalo.
Though it is believed Gundlach does not have the money himself to buy the team, Jim Kelly reportedly has other potential investors involved.
Jim Kelly and his team could face challenges in buying the team, however. Sources say Pegula is determined to win the bidding, and after just selling oil-rich property for $1.75 billion, he is flush with cash.
Pegula could have other incentives, one tax attorney said. If Pegula were to re-invest some of the sale money into a buying property for a new stadium, he could enjoy an extra tax savings.
But there may be one fewer competitor in the mix. Sources say Jon Bon Jovi’s bid came in far lower than the rest, and that the trust has fears he will move the team to Toronto. The trust is forbidden to sell the team to anyone who would sell the team, and despite writing an open letter claiming that he is committed to the team in Buffalo, many still doubt Bon Jovi’s intentions.
There are now reports that some high-profile friends are trying to persuade Bon Jovi from bowing out of the process.
Sources say the Buffalo Bills trust is scheduling meetings in Manhattan next week to discuss bids with potential bidders, with the process going on for roughly two weeks. It isn’t known when Jim Kelly could be presenting.