Prospective Bills Ownership Group Studied Toronto Stadiums

Fans in Western New York need not panic over the fact that the Bon Jovi/Rogers/Tanenbaum group bidding on the Bills has identified three potential stadium sites in Ontario should they purchase the team. So what if a group with more money than god and strong ties to Toronto has reportedly conducted a feasibility study on moving the team there? (Is this not helping you stay calm? Sorry.)

The Associated Press reports that the group (led by Jon Bon Jovi, members of the Canadian telecommunications-empire Rogers family, and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum) commissioned a feasibility study 18 months ago that considered three different possibilities for a new stadium. Two were in Toronto, including one on the city's waterfront, and a third was in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga.

It's probably not coincidence that this leak comes days after it was reported that the Bon Jovi group supposedly intends to keep the team in Buffalo. And after the AP report, the group's stadium consultant ran to the Buffalo News to say "nothing to see here."

"It's the Buffalo Bills, and they will do everything they can to make that work there," said Andrew Bergmann, a Toronto engineer who is a stadium consultant for the group.

Just because a prospective ownership group is considering Toronto stadium sites doesn't mean that's their plan.

John Vrooman, a Vanderbilt professor who specializes in sports economics, said feasibility studies are standard practice among prospective ownership groups and there should be no immediate cause for alarm. He said such studies evaluate expected cash flows and best- and worst-case risk factors based on location.

But there is a very good reason to disbelieve this ownership group when it claims there hasn't been any talk about Toronto. Per the terms of the Bills' lease, the team is not allowed to even negotiate with any potential buyer that has the intention to relocation. If any buyer plans to move the Bills to Toronto, they'll deny it right up until the sale closes.

[AP]