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Andre Reed joins fan fund-raising project designed to aid Bills

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Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Famer Andre Reed has joined the Buffalo Fan Alliance effort, which aims to raise money among fans to help a new owner keep the Bills franchise in Western New York.

Reed, the Bills’ all-time greatest receiver, was among a group of people named today to the alliance’s board of advisors.

The alliance has proposed raising between $100 million and $170 million from fans, who could pay anywhere from $100 to $10,000 apiece. That fund then would be offered interest-free to someone buying the team and pledging to keep it in Western New York, potentially creating an incentive worth around $10 million per year for a new owner.

“The region has supported the team for more than 50 years,” Reed said. “I’m lending my name to this because I want to do whatever I can to help keep the team here.”

“I like this idea,” Reed said. “I think people will jump on board. I think there’s a lot of benefits it would provide a new ownership group. I’m getting to know more about the alliance, and I think this can help.”

People donating to the fund wouldn’t own anything, other than a paper certificate, but they would be investing in the effort to keep the Bills here for the long term.

The fund-raising effort has not yet begun. It’s targeted to begin “in three months or so,” said Matt Sabuda, one of the founders of the alliance.

“We’re in the final stages of having the actual fund structure ready to go,” Sabuda said. “The goal is to roll this out slowly, to bring people like Andre on board, to get fans comfortable with the idea. … We want to build up a comfort level with fans so they’ll feel very comfortable with our structure.”

The alliance’s plans were unveiled in February. The effort all along was slated to begin this summer, and the roll-out was not tied to the death of Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.

Whoever buys the team, regardless of how much money they are worth, is going to have to finance part of the purchase. The money raised would be lent at zero percent interest to an ownership group that ensures the team would not move. The arrangement, if it raised the desired amount, would offer savings estimated at $8 million to $14 million per year on debt service costs. That’s the equivalent of doubling the team’s current luxury box income.

Sabuda said his group already has met with two potential Buffalo ownership groups that have been vetted by the NFL, and it has a meeting with a third group scheduled. He would not identify the groups. Sabuda said the timing of the sale of the team, expected within a year, should not hurt the alliance’s plans. He thinks a significant total can be raised in the initial months of the effort. So does Reed.

“I’m a voice for the fans,” Reed said. “I’m not in this just to put my name out there and get a bunch of tweets. I think the fans see my name involved in it, and that’s helpful. They want to see some action. I’m 100 percent positive this could help a new owner who wants to keep the team in Western New York.”

Joining Reed on the advisory board are former Bills place-kicker Steve Christie; former Canisius High School and New York Giants wide receiver Phil McConkey; and NBC-TV correspondent Luke Russert.

  • Frank Buxton

    This idea is noble. The theory is unusual. The reality of the 100 mill.+ goal ?......in your dreams. I think Andre's worrying about his HOF day and having few fans there.

    • ad-block-pessimist

      WR is one of the hardest positions to comprehend - even a guy who played his heart out for so many seasons to great success can be misunderstood. Andre understands that being one of the best all-time Bills is accurately measured by his peers in ways his fans may not understand for a very long time. That's why is here backing the Bills - not because of (or in spite of) anything that any fan could say.

      • buildersent

        wow being one of the best all time bills? let's see - how many time were they a championship team? That's right - never.

        Not a chance they will raise 100 million. never going to happen. That's $100+ for each person living in erie county.

    • buildersent

      It's all about the PR he can get for himself just like kelly and co.

  • Hal Jam

    The NFL loves to play the reverse Robin Hood (rob the poor to give to the rich), so they should love this idea. On the other hand, at least it's voluntary, so whatever... If it keeps the Buffalo Bills alive might as well do it.

  • Mary McCombs

    Sounds like a great idea, anything to keep my man Andre involved is ok with me.
    Giddy up.

    • Please, Say it ain’t so!

      Sounds like a stupid idea!!!

  • Guest

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!

  • repomania

    Suckers. Fans paying for a maybe?

    • Jan Reimers

      I believe that if the money is not lent out, it will be returned to the individual contributors. I also think it will show any potential local owner - including Trump - that there is great fan support for keeping the Bills here.

  • ad-block-pessimist

    Andre,

    Thank you for your support

  • MadAsHeckAndNotGonnaTakeIt

    Great news. Thanks Andre. And thanks to all the action-oriented, true Buffalonians who are working so hard to get this effort off the ground. If nothing else, this effort will let potential owners and politicians know that the citizens of Buffalo are SERIOUS about keeping our team here where is belongs. And, we are willing to put our wallets where our mouth is. Once ready, I'll be first in line to proudly contribute to this fund. Buffalo is finally heading in the right direction. Losing the Bills would be a HUGE blow to that effort. THE BUFFALO BILLS STAY IN BUFFALO !!!!!!!!!

  • buildersent

    This is a stupid idea.
    It's time people accept the fact that Buffalo is a dying area and it is not going to pay off for a billionaire to keep a business here any longer than they need to.
    It's the typical penny ante thinking this area has had for decades.
    Stop improving the stadium, set a demolition date and ship the bills out this year and lets be done with the drama. After them, ship the sabres out as they are another loser team.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.