Potential Bills Owners: The Latest List

Who’s going to buy the Bills? Ever since the passing of Ralph Wilson Jr. in March, this has been the question nagging at the back of our minds. The good news is that—no matter what—the Bills are contractually obligated to be here another six years. Beyond that, the future of the team is uncertain.

Within the last month, several potential owners have received non-disclosure agreements from the Bills, along with the team’s financial data. Bids are going to be submitted to Morgan Stanley, which has been tasked with handling the late Mr. Wilson’s estate. The plan is to have it down to one candidate by the end of July. This candidate will then need final approval by the league’s owners in October meetings.

With the Buffalo Bills worth a Forbes Valuation estimated at $870 Million here are the current front runners:


Terry Pegula 

Before buying the Sabres, Pegula made a fortune in fracking, selling his natural gas and drilling company to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion. He’s publicly stated that he wants to see the Bills stay in Buffalo.

The NFL cross-ownership rules don’t apply when the teams are in the same market, so Pegula could technically own both the Bills and the Sabres (and thus our hearts). Delaware North magnate and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has expressed interest in buying the Bills, but in contrast to Pegula, he’d have to sell the Bruins before being considered an eligible buyer (and since he hasn’t done that, he’s no longer in the mix).

The Buffalo News reported that Pegula has been dumping off assets and reorganizing his holdings, including selling $1.75 billion worth of drilling land in Ohio and West Virginia earlier this year. This may have been done to free up money so he could buy the Bills.

Forbes estimates Pagula’s net worth at $3.3 billion.

 

 Donald Trump

The Donald has been continually gracing the Bills organization with his interest. In April Trump said of buying the Bills, “I would love to do it, and if I can do it I'm keeping [the team] in Buffalo. I live in New York, and it's easier for me to go to Buffalo than any other place.”

Given Trump’s penchant for shameless self-promotion and publicity stunts, it’s hard to take anything he says terribly seriously. But there’s still a chance he’s a legitimate contender—he’s got the bankroll, and the NFL is as sound (and as glamorous) of an investment as they come. Trump’s the richest potential buyer.

His net worth is estimated conservatively at $3.9 billion.

 

Tom Golisano

It’s speculated that Golisano sold the Sabres so he’d have enough money to buy the Bills. He’s expressed his desire for the team to stay in Buffalo, calling it “a very important asset” for Western NY. Golisano has also been supportive of building a new stadium, and even indicated plans for a dome.

Golisano is connected to mall-developer Scott Congel, whose Pyramid Companies control the Walden Galleria and Destiny USA in Syracuse. Congel owns land 10 miles from Ralph Wilson Stadium—land that’s been discussed as a potential site for a new stadium.

Golisano is worth $1.9 billion.

 

Jon Bon Jovi

It’s amazing how much money some hyper-successful entertainers are making. Dr. Dre is now a billionaire after selling Beats to Apple, and Bon Jovi is worth hundreds of millions of dollars—enough for him to be at the head of a group of Canadian investors who would buy the Bills as a block. This group includes Larry Tanenbaum, who’s in charge of the firm that owns the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs. The New York Post reported that Bon Jovi recently had lunch with Commissioner Goodell to discuss ownership.

This is the one buying situation where the potential owners would almost certainly try to move the Bills (probably to Toronto)—so we have to be rooting against Jon Bon J.

Jon Bon Jovi's estimated net worth is $300 million. 


To give some perspective, the Jags and the Browns sold two years ago for $760 million and $1.05 billion, respectively. In 2009, the Dolphins sold for $1.1 billion. And with former-Microsoft-CEO Steve Ballmer’s recent $2 billion dollar purchase of the L.A. Clippers, it seems that professional sports teams are fetching even higher prices than usual. I’d be surprised to see the Bills sell for a penny less than $1 billion.

Luckily, when it comes to keeping the Bills here, we have friends in very high places—such as Governor Cuomo and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell—both of whom support building a new stadium for the Bills right here in Western New York (Goodell is from Jamestown). Keeping us the Buffalo Bills couldn’t have much more powerful support than that.