Bills need a new stadium so badly that people are only bidding $1.3b for the team

It’s official: Pretty much any sports team is worth a crazy amount of money now. Witness the Buffalo Bills, who Forbes has valued at $870 million, the third-least-valuable in the NFL; according to Buffalo Business First, there are currently three bids to buy the Bills from the estate of their late owner Ralph Wilson, and all are in the $1 billion to $1.3 billion range.

The names of the bidders helps explain what’s going on here: The three groups are led by billionaire Sabres owner Terry Pegula; Jon Bon Jovi; and Donald Trump. That’s one rich guy who wants to corner the market in Buffalo sports, and two rich guys who aren’t involved in sports but have money to burn and want something to burn it on. (Though Trump said earlier this week that his chances “are very, very unlikely because I’m not gonna do something totally stupid,” leading Deadspin to add that “Donald Trump is a clownfraud who only got involved in this for the attention.”) Pegula is considered the frontrunner in the bidding, in part because Bon Jovi’s group — which also includes Canadian cable giant Rogers Communications, because you’ve gotta have a TV company in there — has conducted a feasibility study into building a stadium in Toronto, and Wilson’s estate has indicated that it will give precedence to buyers who want to keep the team in Buffalo.

All of which makes it a bit puzzling why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and others have been warning that without a new stadium, the Bills might leave — it seems like the team is plenty valuable right where it is. Or rather not puzzling, since we know why Goodell is saying it, but … maddening? Exasperating? One of those.

10 comments on “Bills need a new stadium so badly that people are only bidding $1.3b for the team

  1. Minor point: Bon Jovi has some involvement in sports, as an owner in the Arena Football League.

    And it’s likely that the possibility of getting a stadium subsidy is built into the analysis that generated these bids.

  2. Oh, sure. But once the team is sold, there should be nothing stopping Buffalo from saying, “Welcome to town! New stadium subsidies? Sorry, we don’t remember anything about any new stadium subsidies…”

  3. …and the new owners would still have the same “we’ll move the team” leverage as the current owners. Keeping the status thoroughly quo-ed.

    Just saying that some value is probably being given to the possibility of getting a subsidy at some point (as well as the possibility of relocating), so some of the $1B+ is above and beyond the value of the team’s current situation.

  4. Develop a stadium that can both hold CFL and NFL games and move them to Toronto with the Argonauts. Let it go Buffalo. Roger Goodell has already shown himself to have no respect for this state when he watched us pump renovation money into an already DOA stadium…..just let it go….

  5. “Donald Trump is a clownfraud who only got involved in this for the attention”

    Not only is that an awesome statement, it fairly well sums up his entire career (including, especially, the USFL), not just this specific event.

  6. Ben: Who’s paying for it? As I put it on a comment on the Deadspin article:

    -Not Bon Jovi/Tannenbaum. Canadian construction costs would probably put a stadium at $1bil minimum, not including land purchase. It would double the debt load of the purchase, something the NFL heavily frowns upon. Why would the NFL even take the chance if you have a guy with $2bil cash in hand bidding the same amount in Buffalo?

    -Not Rogers. They own Rogers Centre.

    -Not the Federal government. They’ve stayed out of the CFL stadium boom as much as they could have, and the last thing a Government based in the Praries is going to do is subsidize the fatal wounding of the CFL, or even sell their land at Downsview.

    -Provincial government: The only difference between the Grits and Tories this election was that one leader bragged with a strange smile about cutting 100k civil servants, and the other one dodged the question. There’s no money, and after the SkyDome fiasco and the Pan Am games, completely out of the picture.

    -Municipal government: The only council members who would even consider supporting it are the Ford brothers…and they voted against a $10,000,000 loan for BMO Field modifications. Any leadership of the initiative from the Mayor’s office would be from Ford (ie none), Tory (former CFL Commish) or Olivia Chow (NDPer).

    There’s no stadium. There won’t be a stadium. Toronto is not getting the NFL.

  7. Fair enough. Replace Toronto with Los Angeles. That is how much the NFL has ticked me off with us pumping renovation money into the Ralph only to have Roger state we probably will need a new stadium. Let it go Buffalo…..let it go…..

  8. So long as the good folk of Buffalo and W. NY keep emptying their children’s college fund jars and handing the proceeds over to the NFL (whether by choice or by act of elected officials), I don’t see the Bills leaving Buffalo. If the city ever stops giving the NFL money for nothing, well, they might allow the franchise to move… but it doesn’t look like that is happening any time soon. And there still isn’t anywhere reasonable to move to either (or the Jags would already be there).

    It will be Pegula. I have more chance of having Julia Roberts come to my house, drop to one knee and ask me to marry her than Donald Trump has of becoming an NFL owner… Not now. Not ever.

    One question though… doesn’t the NFL still prefer it’s owners not to have other professional sports teams? Kroenke seems to have sidestepped that by being a minority partner in the Rams first, and Lerner seemed to have never been taken to task over his other sports ventures. Then again, if they are really committed to having a team in Buffalo, what could be better than having a guy who already owns Buffalo teams joining the owners club?. Especially if he won’t let that prevent him from extorting a new facility in 5 years or so…

  9. If they can get a billion for that crap team in that crap town, my team in my shiny new publicly funded palace oughtta make me so rich my farts will smell like roses. Weehee!!