As the sale of the Buffalo Bills proceeds, things continue to look ominous for a Jon Bon Jovi-led group attempting to purchase the team.
John Kryk of the Toronto Sun reports that the group - which also features Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, as well as the Rogers family - met with the trust running the Bills and representatives from Morgan Stanley on Tuesday. Kryk has reported about their ownership bid every step of the way, and his latest maintains a weeks-long sense that the Toronto group is quickly losing ground in the race.
"The sense of pessimism that had saturated the Toronto bid group two weeks ago - when sources say the trio were informed their initial, non-binding bid fell hundreds of millions of dollars short of the one submitted by Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula - has not dissipated, QMI Agency has learned," Kryk writes. "Defeat seems more inevitable than ever."
The news comes on the heels of a similar set of tweets sent out by Tim Graham of The Buffalo News on Wednesday evening.
Educated source once involved in Bills sales process says team is "Pegula's to lose" and Bon Jovi group is "unfocused and disorganized."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) August 14, 2014
Same source as earlier tweet tells me Bills will be in Western New York "for a very, very long time whether they get a new stadium or not."— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) August 14, 2014
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Fan Alliance - a group of fans dedicated to keeping the Bills in Western New York - unearthed documents containing language that Roger Rai, a Rogers Communications consultant, was involved in the ownership group, and that said group was planning on moving the team to Toronto.
MT- Pg 72 of public filing in Canada states "attempting to acquire and move the Buffalo Bills to Toronto." pic.twitter.com/yu0rcdI5Xu— Buffalo Fan Alliance (@fanalliance) August 14, 2014
For the non-eagle-eyed, the sentence in question reads: "Mr. Rai assists in the sports ownership affairs of Rogers Communications and was responsible for the acquisition of the Toronto Blue Jays and is part of the ownership group attempting to acquire and move the Buffalo Bills to Toronto."
Rai has already spoken on the matter with John Wawrow of the Associated Press, telling the reporter that he is not involved in the ownership bid in question, and that the language in the release was a miscommunication with a coworker publishing the biography. A revised statement was published, with the offending language removed, on July 8 of this year.
It's worth pointing out, also, that the document was published (and subsequently edited) nearly two weeks prior to reports surfacing that the Bon Jovi group had submitted a non-disclosure agreement to begin the process of pursuing the team. That's how far back in the timeline that particular gaffe occurred.
Still, some might consider it proof that the Bon Jovi group, at bare minimum, fully intended to relocate the franchise at one point. Which is something that has been widely and safely assumed for nine months or so.
It has been speculated for quite some time now that the Toronto group remains in the bidding largely as a face-saving move for Morgan Stanley, who have been unable to generate more bidding interest as they sell the franchise. As it stands, the team only has a handful of people still interested in a purchase, with those parties meeting with Morgan Stanley and the Bills' trust starting last week.