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Jacobs family doing ‘everything we can’ to keep Bills in Buffalo

Jacobs family doing ‘everything we can’ to keep Bills in Buffalo “We are using our resources, our contacts, our relationships to do everything we can to ensure the Bills stay in Buffalo," Jeremy Jacobs Jr. told The Buffalo News.

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Members of one of the Buffalo area’s wealthiest and most influential families are deeply engaged in discussions about the future of the Buffalo Bills, but a key member would not say whether they would make an offer for the team.

Jeremy M. Jacobs Jr., a principal with Delaware North Cos., the hospitality giant owned by his family and run by his father, did confirm that his family is involved behind the scenes in the effort to help keep the team in Western New York.

“We are using our resources, our contacts, our relationships to do everything we can to ensure the Bills stay in Buffalo,” Jacobs told The Buffalo News on Wednesday in the first interview with a member of the Jacobs family since the death of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.

Asked directly whether those efforts could include making a bid for the team, or joining a group making an offer, Jacobs said he could not speculate and chose his words carefully.

“It’s still early in the process, and it’s impossible to say either way,” he said.

Aside from a statement released by Jeremy M. Jacobs Sr. on April 11, those are the first comments from a member of the Jacobs family since Wilson, 95, died March 25, setting off a flurry of conjecture about the future of Buffalo’s National Football League franchise.

The younger Jacobs’ remarks aligned with what he, and his father, have said in the past when asked about the chances that they would buy the team.

The Jacobs family has led the list of potential future owners, partly because of their close ties to the NFL – Delaware North has the concessions contracts at a number of NFL stadiums, including Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park – and their previous and current sports ownership.

Jeremy Jacobs Sr., who has a net worth of $3.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, owns the Boston Bruins and the TD Garden where the National Hockey League team plays, and he once owned the former Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association after the death of his father, Louis Jacobs.

Jeremy Jacobs Jr. acknowledged it’s natural for the family and Delaware North come up in discussions of potential future owners of the team.

“We’re involved in the sports world. We’re a known entity in the sports world,” Jacobs said, noting that his father is chairman of the NHL’s Board of Governors, which represents the league’s owners.

Given how early we are in the process – the executors of Wilson’s estate have not yet selected the investment banking firm that will put together a portfolio on the team’s assets – it’s impossible to say who the serious contenders are to buy the team.

The names of Terry Pegula, current owner of the Buffalo Sabres; B. Thomas Golisano, former owner of the Sabres and founder of Paychex; and Robert E. Rich Jr., owner of Rich Products and the Buffalo Bisons baseball team – billionaires all, according to Forbes – have been floated as possible owners.

Jacobs declined to identify any potential owners and other interested parties with whom he and his family have been in contact.

“We’re, I would say, on the periphery of the conversation,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs did say those conversations have included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Jacobs said he knows Goodell through the company’s extensive business dealings with the Bills and other NFL clients.

“He knows of our concern. He knows our interest in keeping the team in Buffalo,” Jacobs said. He declined to identify other people with whom he has discussed the Bills.

Any involvement by the Jacobs family or Delaware North in the Bills is complicated by the fact that the family owns the NHL’s Boston Bruins and has extensive gaming holdings.

The NFL bars its owners from owning a team in another sports league in another NFL city. In other words, the Bills owner couldn’t own the Detroit Red Wings, because Detroit has the NFL’s Lions, but could own the Columbus Blue Jackets because there’s no NFL team there. Further, NFL owners may own an NHL or NBA team in their own market.

Jeremy Jacobs Sr. has said he would not sell the Bruins in order to buy the Bills.

The NFL also has strict regulations barring ownership of casinos, racetracks and other gaming interests.

email: swatson@buffnews.com

  • Punch Knocks

    Meh. Ho hum. Move along. No news here. Flaccid quotes ginned up into a kerfuffle. Do the Jacobs have PR people minding dry-mouthed, wart-afflicted Junior to keep him under wraps, or was it their intention to desperately appear "deeply engaged" while allowing they're skulking on the "periphery" so they can't be blamed when money carries the day over sentiment? And that sorry photo ... did the News not have the cash to pay for the top of Junior's head from the family-album selfie? The headless heedlessness mirrors the News editors, who must have had the night off.

    • JT Lancer

      If you despise the News so much, why do you continue to read it?

      • nlwhitmarsh

        for some it just keeps us laughing

      • Michael Towers

        Because the #1 pastime in Buffalo is complaining about anything and everything. It's what drives them.

    • nlwhitmarsh

      ouch!

    • BufChester

      That photo choice by The News is pretty grim, but not surprising. Do senior management of this paper not look at their own product? Do they not care?

    • Please, Say it ain’t so!

      "...did the News not have the cash to pay for the top of Junior's head from the family-album selfie?"
      It was obviously more important to get the presidential seal centered in the pic.

  • repomania

    Here we go again.. Good grief.

    • BullGuy

      Hey, this is just the beginning. Get ready for at least another 9-12 months of this.

  • Newday12

    Good for them....I hope they are successful in purchasing the team or getting a group together.

    At least they are in talks about the future of the franchise.

    All most people do in this city is complain, do nothing and cry that nothing is never good enough.

    So many entitle cry babies in this city who offer little value to society.

    Good luck Jacobs family and thank you for your efforts for trying to keep the Bills in Buffalo!

    You are a great asset to our community.

  • Dom Pacile

    Great news for Bills Fans all the idiot post on the issue are are just that idiotic.

  • Terrier1

    The Jacobs have more credibility and probably at lot more access to capital that Donald Trump will ever have.
    I'm happy to hear they are involved.

  • ElmwoodEd

    This article says that the Jacobs are barred by the NFL from owning a team in another sports league in another NFL city and that they would not sell the Bruins in order to buy the Bills. So, what are they doing to keep the Bills in Buffalo and why should they care?

    • Christopher Vincent

      Technically, Jeremy Jacobs Sr. owns the Bruins. They could structure it in such a way that another family member would own it.

    • Newday12

      He can just put it in another family members name or even authorize Delaware North or create a subsidiary under the conmpany to purchase it depending on the technicalities....

  • James Hufnagel

    Well if you're using your resources, Jacobs, just buy the team. As an added plus, you'll be guaranteed decades of sales of disgusting, unhealthy fast food to the obese.

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About the reporters

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.