Tim Graham: ‘Everybody Would Be Behind Terry Pegula’
At least three bids have been submitted to purchase the Buffalo Bills – including one from Donald Trump – but a standoff is emerging between two different groups of people.
In one corner, there’s Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. In the other corner, there’s Jon Bon Jovi, who is part of a Toronto-based group that may or may not want to move the team out of Buffalo.
Is it safe to say that Bills fans want Pegula to get the team and that they all hate Bon Jovi?
“Yes and yes,” Buffalo News Bills writer Tim Graham said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I think even if Jon Bon Jovi didn’t exist or this Toronto group didn’t exist, everybody in Western New York would be behind Terry Pegula. He’s the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, he’s from here, he’s a former season-ticket holder and he knows the history. There’s a confidence or assurance that he’s going to keep the team in Western New York.”
Pegula, 63, is a multi-billionaire with five children.
“He’s young enough,” Graham said. “You’re not going to have to worry about this for a long time. He’s talked about giving all of his assets to his kids someday. So this is multi-generational ownership of the Buffalo Bills.”
Former Bills owner Ralph Wilson died in March. He was 95.
“As you know, this has been the No. 1 fear of any Bills fan going back decades – that when Ralph Wilson dies, the team is gone, whether it was to Los Angeles (or somewhere else),” Graham said. “It’s a toxic environment right now for the Bon Jovi group. It is nasty and ugly. People hate him. If he were to somehow win the bid for this team, it’s a legitimate significant issue the NFL is going to have to address to really smooth things over. They’re going to have to do a lot of damage control if that group does win – because the fans here have already turned on him. They don’t trust him.”
“The Toronto group has stressed through different sources or different channels that it’s going to keep the team in Western New York. ‘You don’t have to worry, folks. We’re not going to move your Buffalo Bills.’ Nobody believes him. The county executive has come out on the record in an Associated Press article saying he doesn’t believe him. I know people at One Bills Drive don’t believe him. Clearly the fans don’t believe him. It couldn’t be any clearer who the fans want to win.”
Morgan Stanley investment bankers are handling the sale process for the Bills.
“Ralph Wilson had all of the arrangements set up in his will,” Graham said. “There are four people in this trust and it is their job to get the best offer that they can for the sale of the team. Now, there is a bunch of stuff we don’t know because trusts are private. You really don’t know what they’re looking for. Did Ralph Wilson give them some criteria that they have to follow? We’ve been told time and time again that there is no such stipulation that it should go to the highest bidder, but there is still emotion involved. These are people. They want to vote on what’s best for Ralph Wilson’s legacy. These are people who were picked by him. If they were to sell the team to a group that’s going to move them to Toronto, then Ralph Wilson’s legacy would be trashed.”