Reaction coming in to Jon Bon Jovi's letter concerning his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills has been mostly negative, with those weighing in saying they're skeptical of his intent and willing to do what's needed to keep the team in Western New York.
Bon Jovi addressed the matter in a letter printed in Sunday's Buffalo News. That letter said his Toronto-based group would "make sure the Bills are successful in Buffalo" and "carry on Ralph Wilson's legacy" but failed to make any guarantees about keeping the team in Buffalo.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in hours after the letter became public Sunday:
"As the process of finding a new owner for the Buffalo Bills moves forward, one thing is clear – the Bills belong in Western New York. I have been in touch with the NFL and the team's potential buyers to make sure this message is heard, and I will continue to work with all interested parties until the sale is finalized. The Bills support hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in the regional annually, and by being located in Western New York they benefit from the most dedicated group of fans in the NFL. Few things are as culturally, historicall and economically ingrained in Buffalo as the Bills, and we intend to keep it that way."
Many Bills fans are openly rooting for either Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula or former Sabres owner Tom Golisano – who's set to belatedly enter the bidding this week – to win out. Bon Jovi's links to Maple Leaf Sports and the Rogers family in Ontario, along with reports that the group had been looking at new stadium sites in the Greater Toronto Area, have Bills fans on edge about the team's future if they win. Donald Trump is also in the running as bidding enters the next stage, during which bidders will get more financial information about the team as they work to finalize their bids.
The Buffalo Fan Alliance has been working to prepare an interest-free loan to any prospective bidder who guarantees to keep the team in Western New York. Group directors Matt Sabuda, Brian Cinelli and Steve Brady said in a letter Sunday that they echo fan sentiment and they're skeptical about the Toronto group's plans:
"While we appreciate his sentiment, it's worth noting that nowhere in his letter does he write or directly state or legally commit his group to not moving the Bills from Buffalo. Given the Bon Jovi group's roots and business commitments in Toronto, the Buffalo Fan Alliance believes that this group will have to tangibly and unequivocally demonstrate to Bills fans everywhere the group’s commitment to Western New York before this community and this fan base will believe their intentions. Anything short of formal action taken on their part will be viewed as nothing more than rhetoric."
The group calls upon the Bon Jovi group to enter into a binding pre-purchase agreement with the government to waive the one-year buyout in the Bills' current 10-year lease. That clause, in year seven of the deal that began in 2013, would lower the buyout price from $400 million to $28 million. That window is what has many fans worried, as a group paying more than $1 billion for the team could easily come up with that lower buyout price.
"We also believe that they would need to announce formalized plans for a long term-stadium solution in New York either in advance of, or contemporaneously with, any successful ownership declaration," the group's letter said. "Whether this be a more comprehensive retrofit of Ralph Wilson Stadium or a new stadium altogether, a stated to frame and binding commitment to one of the two options needs to be taken by this group so that the team will remain viable in this region for a period well beyond the current lease term."
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