NFL owners have been conducting annual league meetings in Atlanta throughout the weekend and early this week, and the Buffalo Bills have been a hot topic at the event. The organization is currently in the hands of a trust following the death of team founder Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., and as the process of selling the team kicks into high gear in short order, the idea of the Bills staying in Western New York long term has been discussed frequently over the last few days.
Among the various reports that you have undoubtedly read (and which MRW has dutifully linked to in Web Rumblings if you'd like to try to catch up), there have been two distinct themes. We'll start off with an honest-to-goodness news item, however.
Trust zeroing in on investment bank
Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon told reporters on Tuesday that the trust currently controlling the organization could announce the hiring of an investment bank to make recommendations in the sale process by the end of the month.
Several potential ownership groups have already expressed interest in buying the Bills, but it will be up to whichever firm the trust chooses to field actual bids, vet candidates and value the franchise. In that way, the sale process has not officially begun - but it could fire up quickly here in the next week or two, depending on how quickly this announcement is made.
More want the Bills to stay than go
Reporters on the scene have been speaking with prominent owners all week, and the majority of them are publicly stating that they'd prefer - and that the group as a whole would prefer - to see the Bills stay in Western New York. We've already been over the hoops that any ownership group would have to jump through to relocate the franchise in several years (catch up on everything here), and there are reports out there that owners toying with the idea of relocation are having second thoughts about their pursuit of the Bills.
What I was told by someone with very good knowledge of the Buffalo Bills sale situation: "Whoever buys it has to be prepared to stay there."— Judy Battista (@judybattista) May 20, 2014
I'm told a Toronto-based group interested in buying the Bills is reconsidering because moving might be too difficult.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) May 20, 2014
Other groups - including the Toronto-based group featuring Jon Bon Jovi and Larry Tanenbaum, according to John Kryk - will continue their pursuit of the team. But sentiment continues to grow that it's going to be difficult to move the Bills out of Western New York. We already know that they're not going anywhere for at least another six years.
The Bills need a new stadium
As the owners have stated their preference for the team to stay in Western New York, none have disagreed with the long-held statement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that the only viable way to pull that off is to build a new stadium for the Bills.
Even Brandon, in the midst of seeing Ralph Wilson Stadium undergo fairly massive renovations to get it through the current lease, admitted that a new stadium is needed.
Brandon on commish saying new stadium needed: focus on current renos; "eventually" will need new stadium. "We've been serial renovators."— John Kryk (@JohnKryk) May 20, 2014
Brandon cautioned that the New Stadium Working Group - comprised of state, county and Bills representatives - will be taking its time in making a recommendation on the location and other important details regarding a new stadium. Obviously, the team's new ownership, and their intentions on whether or not to stay in Western New York, will play a role in the timeline of a new stadium being recommended, as well.