Buffalo News' Tim Graham has been all over the prospective sale of the Bills franchise from the start of the process, and he passed along an interesting — though hardly shocking — news nugget about the current state of affairs.
For all the talk of the celebrity owners involved in the process, namely Donald Trump along with the Jon Bon Jovi-fronted group, it has been the locally grounded and well-funded Terry Pegula who has stood out as the most likely purchaser of the Bills franchise.
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Nationally, the Trump and Bon Jovi involvement has led to snappy headlines and media talking points. But locally, Pegula has emerged from the fog as the favorite of the fans, and perhaps of the Bills officials who are handling the sale following the death of Ralph Wilson.
Pegula, the Buffalo Sabres owner, is believed to have submitted a strong financial commitment to become the next Bills owner. And the oil and gas magnate only has strengthened his position by freeing up a boatload of cash last week in a $1.75 billion sale of petroleum-rich land in both West Virginia and Ohio.
Other than the fact that he's not Bon Jovi, Pegula is a favorite of Bills fans and local politicians because there is no indication that he would ever consider moving the team out of western New York. In June, Pegula said he favored the team remaining local, and somehow his word feels more authentic than some of his more famous interloping adversaries.
Pegula also doesn't appear to be in the sports-ownership business just to make money. Pegula famously said after purchasing the Sabres in 2011:
"If I want to make some money," Pegula said, "I'll go drill a gas well."
In addition, Pegula helped reinvigorate the Sabres fan base by committing to winning, a similar message of which would be gospel to Bills loyalists.
"Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres reason for existence, will be to win a Stanley Cup," Pegula said at the time, per ESPN.
The process of the Bills sale remains in flux, and there are several bids to consider, including the apparently disorganized Bon Jovi group. There's also the thorny issue over a new stadium and whether taxpayer money will help subsidize the effort. But Pegula has to be considered one of — if not the — favorites to replace Wilson as the team's owner.
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