Pegulas Reach Agreement To Buy Bills

2:46pm: The Pegulas’ winning bid was worth $1.4 billion, a record figure for an NFL franchise, tweets Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, adding that there were a total of five bidders for the team.

1:48pm: The Bills have officially announced that an agreement has been reached with the Pegulas, who will be the next owners of the franchise. That parties will submit the agreement for approval in advance of the NFL’s owner meetings in New York a month from now.

8:42am: A tentative agreement between the Bills and Terry and Kim Pegula as been reached, according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, who reports (via Twitter) that an official announcement on the sale of the franchise should come later today. We heard last night that the Pegulas, who also own the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, were closing in on a purchase of the Bills after the deadline for binding bids had passed.

While there were reports that other suitors were in the mix, the only bidders for the Bills confirmed publicly were the Pegulas, Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group, and Donald Trump. Trump was never viewed as a viable candidate for approval by the NFL’s 31 other owners, and Bon Jovi’s group – which included the Rogers family and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum – was plagued by issues throughout the process. The Toronto group faced skepticism about its intentions for keeping the Bills in Western New York, and had difficulty getting its bid up to a suitable figure with Bon Jovi acting as the potential controlling owner (meaning he had to have at least a 30% stake in the club).

It’s not clear yet what the amount of the Pegulas’ final bid was, though Graham indicated last night that it looked like it would be a “record sale” for the NFL. Reports on the round of initial bidding pegged the offers from the various suitors anywhere from about $800MM to as high as $1.3 billion, but there was plenty of conflicting information, and the final bids may have been even higher.

In any case, John Kryk of the Toronto Sun indicated last night that Morgan Stanley, the investment bank heading the sale of the Bills, would consider more than just a dollar figure when evaluating the prospective owners. Whereas there were many question marks surrounding the other bidders, the Pegulas were viewed as the most likely candidates to close the deal immediately and to receive approval from the NFL.

Although an official announcement on an agreement between the Pegulas and Bills may come soon, the Sabres owners won’t officially take over control of Buffalo’s NFL team until the league’s owners formally vote on the issue. That’s expected to happen at the NFL’s in-season meetings in October. Before the sale process reaches that point, the agreement will also require initial approval from the league, which should happen at some point this week.

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