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AP sources: Bon Jovi part of group eyeing Bills

The Associated Press
AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, three people who have reviewed documents regarding the sale process told The Associated Press on Friday.

It is unclear if the group would eventually want to move the NFL team to Toronto. The club is on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.

The three people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Friday because the process is private and the Toronto group has not revealed its intentions.

The group includes Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, who is deputy chairman of Rogers, the Toronto communications giant.

The group is on a list of prospective buyers who have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale. The Toronto group has retained the Goldman Sachs banking firm to assist in the bid.

Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but never specifically mentioned the Bills. This is the first real indication linking him to Tanenbaum and Rogers.

One of the people confirmed that Bon Jovi discussed his interests involving the Bills during a restaurant meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City last month.

The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.

The team is essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of a strict nonrelocation clause included in a 10-year lease agreement reached with the state and county in December 2012.

The Bills would incur a $400 million penalty by even broaching the prospect of moving during the lease's term. There is a one-time exception that would allow the Bills to break the lease for just under $28.4 million in 2020.

Of about 60 nondisclosure forms sent out by Morgan Stanley in June, at least 10 of have been returned, two of the people said. Among those also listed as returning their forms are Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump.

The forms were required in order for prospective bidders to gain access to financial and background information on the franchise to begin formulating their bids.

The next step is for prospective bidders to submit another set of forms - including their own financial information - by July 29 to gain more access to the Bills' financial information.

One of the people said Morgan Stanley has informed prospective buyers that the Bills made just under $30 million in net profits last season. And Morgan Stanley projects that number will double by 2019 as a result of the NFL's TV contract, current renovations taking place at the stadium and other potential local sources of income.

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