In an NFL where continuity is a rare precious metal, the one place where the Buffalo Bills have always had a sense of continuity was with ownership in the late Ralph C. Wilson Jr. His teams may not be of the same caliber of those in the past, but Wilson was always the Bills’ biggest champion and was always uncompromising in his desire to keep the team in Western New York. Now that he has passed away, the Bills, for the first time in their over half-century of existence, must find a new owner.
Several big name billionaires have been connected with the impending sale of the team. Chief among them are real estate giant Donald Trump and rock and roll superstar Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi in particular has been receiving a lot of attention in the media due to his involvement with a Toronto-based group that, according to some, intends to move the Bills to Toronto. As a result of these rumors (which Bon Jovi himself has not explicitly denied), the people of Western New York and Bills fans around the world have started a boycott of anything and everything Bon Jovi.
Fortunately for those people, it doesn’t look like they’ll be shot through the heart. That’s because the clear front-runner to be the next owner of the Bills is Terry Pegula, the current owner of the Buffalo Sabres. Pegula certainly has the wealth necessary to win the owning rights to the team, as his net worth was estimated by Forbes to be around $3.3 billion. And that total could rise even more.
Pegula’s East Resources Inc. recently closed a deal with American Energy for drilling rights in Ohio and West Virginia for an estimated $1.75 billion. Exactly how much this improves Pegula’s chances of purchasing the Bills remains to be seen, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Reports have varied on the exact amounts of the opening bids from each of the potential suitors. Trump’s bid was reported to be $1 billion, while Pegula’s is supposedly even higher. As for Bon Jovi, it is not clear whether or not his group has been selected to advance in the bidding process.
While both Bon Jovi and Trump possess the necessary resources to buy the team, Pegula should be the one who comes out on top. He is already a beloved figure in Western New York as owner of the Sabres. His win-at-any-cost mentality has led to some questionable deals, and the Sabres have suffered on the ice because of it. But Pegula has brought good, smart people into the organization, and more importantly, he is still in the good graces of Buffalo fans. And frankly, sometimes a team needs an owner who is willing to take risks if it means winning a championship. The Bills certainly do, and hopefully by the end of the 2014 season, Pegula will be their man.