Mark Gaughan, Robert J. McCarthy and Jerry Zremski of The Buffalo News report that two people have already expressed interest in buying the Buffalo Bills following the death of team founder Ralph Wilson: Jeremy Jacobs and his family, who currently own the NHL's Boston Bruins, and Donald Trump.
"Two well-placed local sources said that the Jacobs are in play," per the report. Jeremy M. Jacobs Sr., a University at Buffalo graduate and East Aurora native who serves as chairman and CEO of the Delaware North concession company based out of Buffalo, has owned the Bruins since 1975. NFL rules do not permit owners of another major pro sports franchise to own a NFL team unless those two teams are in the same market, so to buy the Bills as the principle owner, Jacobs would need to first sell the Bruins.
The report leaves open the possibility that the Jacobs family could buy the Bills without giving up ownership of the Bruins. To do that, one of Jacobs' three sons would need to divest themselves of any share of the Bruins (as well as any role within the organization) and become the controlling owner of the Bills. Alternately, Jacobs could transfer control of the Bruins to one of his sons and become the controlling owner of the Bills. Any such deal would be subject to review for compliance to the NFL's ownership rules.
For now, however, the Jacobs family is considered the leader on a list of local suitors to buy the Bills. Jeremy Jacobs is worth $3.1 billion, according to Forbes.
That same NFL ownership rule would allow Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula to purchase the Bills without giving up ownership of the Sabres. His name continues to be mentioned, but for now, he is keeping his intentions behind closed doors.
"At this time, we remain committed and focused on the Buffalo Sabres organization," Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert told The News in a statement. "However, we are aware of the Buffalo Bills current ownership situation after the passing of Ralph Wilson. We believe that this region is a better place with the Bills here, and we would not want to see the team moved out of Buffalo."
Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, also confirmed to The News that Trump has already expressed interest in purchasing the Bills. Saying that Trump's intention would be to keep the team in Western New York, Cohen attempted to quell fears about Trump's ties to gambling companies while noting that Trump's wealth is "far greater than what has been reported." Trump's name has been in the news cycle for nearly a week now with regards to the Bills' ownership situation.
Mary Wilson, wife to the late Ralph Wilson, was named the Bills' controlling owner last week. The Bills are expected to be sold much faster than originally anticipated, according to a separate News report from last week, with the March 2015 NFL owners' meetings appearing to be a working target for finalizing a deal. A deal could, however, theoretically happen much sooner than that.