Pegulas seen pulling away in Bills race as Bon Jovi group reportedly will submit adjusted bid today
Updated 12:57 PM , June 23, 2015
Sources close to the Bills sale say the Pegulas' pursuit has been flawless so far. The other groups are way behind and leaking oil well short of the finish line.
Two sources connected to Jon Bon Jovi's group told The Buffalo News there has been serious soul-searching within.
But after a week of reflection, a source close to Bon Jovi's group informed The Buffalo News this afternoon it will submit an adjusted initial bid today.
The source also confirmed the story first reported by the Toronto Sun that Bon Jovi's original bid was rejected last week. The initial offer was deemed financially insufficient and didn't include enough assurances about the Bills' long-term future in Western New York.
Sources close to the rock star and his Toronto-based partners told The News that some of Bon Jovi's influential NFL allies have suggested he walk away from the sale because the process has trampled his reputation.
But another line of thinking is that pulling out would be a bad look, too, and that Bon Jovi wants to see the process through.
Representatives for Bon Jovi and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
The Buffalo Bills' sales process technically isn't over.
Every day, however, Terry and Kim Pegula gain an even tighter stranglehold on the team.
Bon Jovi is considered NFL ownership material, but it has become clear in league circles his future almost certainly will be with another team. The rock star's involvement in the Bills sale has become toxic because he's aligned with Toronto partners who have wanted to bring a team to Canada.
Bon Jovi's open letter printed in Sunday's edition of The News was considered a public-relations disaster. One representative from another ownership group called it "ridiculous." One of Bon Jovi's allies said it was "stupid." Fans were offended because the rah-rah letter offered no guarantees.
Bon Jovi's chances seem bleaker with today's Toronto Sun story that his group's non-binding initial bid was rejected. The group reportedly didn't offer enough money or enough assurances the Bills would remain in Western New York.
The Toronto Sun reported Morgan Stanley, the investment bank overseeing the sale for Ralph Wilson's trust, wants Bon Jovi's group to resubmit a bid, but there was no indication whether the group would.
News sources familiar with Bon Jovi's group say he still insists on remaining the principal owner of a club. For that to happen, the NFL constitution and bylaws require that he pay for at least 30 percent of the team.
His Toronto partners, Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Edward Rogers of Rogers Communications, certainly have the financial wherewithal to compete with the Pegulas' net worth.
But there will come a point where Bon Jovi cannot meet the 30 percent threshold and retain organizational control.
Sources have told The News there has been discussion within the Bon Jovi group about the lofty price Pegula appears willing to pay, probably well above the record $1.1 billion price the Miami Dolphins fetched in 2009.
The Bills are believed be worth such a sticker price in Toronto or Los Angeles, but not in Western New York. News sources also say the Bon Jovi group would be willing to go higher for a different NFL team, not for one with a valuation in the bottom half of the league.
Morgan Stanley has had difficulty in drumming up sufficient interest in the team. Unless there's a secret suitor out there, only three parties stepped forward when the non-binding initial bids were supposed to be submitted last Tuesday.
From all accounts, though, the Pegulas have been enough attention.
Terry and Kim Pegula had the potential to be the perfect package as Bills owners from the start. Sources involved in the sales process and within the NFL claim the Pegulas' approach to bidding on the team has underscored their desirability.
While the Pegulas have remained silent, Bon Jovi and billionaire developer Donald Trump appear to violated terms of the nondisclosure agreement by going public with their interest in buying the Bills.
While those three candidates submitted their non-binding initial bids by Morgan Stanley's deadline last Tuesday, Tom Golisano reportedly will make an offer whenever he pleases.
The Pegulas appear to be the preferred bidders not only for the fans, but also the region's most influential politicians. There would be no concerns about moving the Bills across the border with them as owners.
Among NFL owners, the Pegulas will be an easy sell to join their exclusive club, especially if the Pegulas are willing to spend a record sum to acquire the Bills. Terry Pegula, as owner of the Buffalo Sabres, already has been vetted as a deserving sports businessman.
Bon Jovi's biggest strengths heading into the process were highly placed connections within the league -- namely Kraft, Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
But those people might now be advising him to forget the Bills and worry about buying another team down the road.