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Report: Bon Jovi group explored Toronto stadium sites for Bills

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Is Ralph Wilson Stadium good enough for Jon Bon Jovi's ownership group? (USATSI)
Is Ralph Wilson Stadium good enough for Jon Bon Jovi's ownership group? (USATSI)

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If you want to buy the Buffalo Bills, you'll need a lot of money and you have to promise not to move the team. Under terms of the Bills lease, the franchise isn't allowed to negotiate with any potential owner who might relocate the team before the 10-year lease is up at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2022.

Apparently, Jon Bon Jovi's group either didn't read the contract or they don't think it applies to them because Bon Jovi's Toronto-based group recently conducted a feasibility study for buying an NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto, according to the Associated Press.

The study looked at three different locations for a possible Toronto stadium.

Just because the group had the study done doesn't mean they would move the team if they bought the Bills, but it doesn't look good either.

In an email to the AP, the man behind the Bon Jovi group's stadium plans, Andy Bergmann, denied that a feasibility study took place.

"We have undertaken engineering and design studies," Bergmann wrote. "All of our work has been about a generic site and whether it was more rural or urban. We are aware of potential sites in the western NY and southern Ontario region, and are in fact meeting with two Buffalo area developers next week. No feasibility studies have been undertaken on any site to date."

A report from mid-July suggested the Bon Jovi wants to keep the team in Buffalo. However, that means nothing to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who thinks Bon Jovi's Toronto-based group would move the team.

"It is my personal opinion that any bid associated with the Toronto group has a long-term interest in moving the team to Toronto," Poloncarz said.

Under their 10-year lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills are locked into playing in Buffalo through the 2019 season. At that point, a potential owner could pay $28.4 million to void the final three years of the deal, which is set to expire in 2022.

As mentioned before though, any potential owner with known plans to move the team can't be involved in negotiations to buy the team. So if Bon Jovi's group wanted to move the team to Toronto and they made that known, that would eliminate them as potential owners.

That leaves another question unanswered though: Would relocating the team to Toronto actually be considered 'moving the team?'

As Bills beat writer Tim Graham noted in April, moving to Toronto might not technically be relocation.

Of course, this is all a moot point if a Toronto-based group doesn't buy the team. According to the Associated Press, there are at least 10 groups interested in buying the Bills. Bids are expected to be reviewed next week and that number could be trimmed down from 10 in the next one to two weeks.

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