Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula is on the verge of purchasing the Bills, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link), who hears from a source that the sale process is “moving quick” now that binding bids have been submitted. The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham (via Twitter) also reports that a decision should happen soon, perhaps even overnight, and that it sounds like it will be a “record” sale. A league source tells Graham that he’d be “shocked” if anyone besides the Pegulas ended up buying the team (Twitter link).
As we noted earlier tonight, bids to purchase the team had been received from Pegula, Donald Trump, and Jon Bon Jovi‘s Toronto-based group. While it’s not clear if any other suitors submitted final bids before today’s deadline, Pegula has long appeared to be the frontrunner, despite attempts to drum up interest from other parties. With one sports franchise already in Buffalo, the Sabres owner is extremely unlikely to attempt to move the Bills, which was a concern with some of the other potential bidders, including Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group.
The Ralph Wilson trust running the Bills were reported to be looking for several criteria with their selection of a new owner, as opposed to just accepting the highest bid, according to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun. Kryk mentions the “certainty of NFL approval” and the ability to close the deal immediately were the two critical factors that differentiated Pegula from the other suitors. Trump’s previous involvement with the USFL, and the inevitable speculation about Bon Jovi’s group moving the team to Canada clearly made Pegula the candidate with the smoothest sale process.
Assuming Pegula’s bid is declared the winner, he would likely be officially approved as the Bills’ owner during the league’s in-season meetings in October.