Rocker Jon Bon Jovi power-lunched on Thursday in Manhattan with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Whether it was an empowering or disempowering lunch for Bon Jovi is unknown.
The New York Post reported Thursday night that the duo had lunched at a big-shots restaurant, Fresco by Scotto.
A source in the position to know confirmed to Sun Media on Friday that the lunch meeting indeed took place.
And it wasn’t just a friendly, breezy chat, the Post reported.
“They were definitely talking business,” the Post’s source said. “Jon was taking notes — he had a pen and paper with him at the table.”
Sun Media reported in April that the 53-year-old Bon Jovi leads a bid group along with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum that intends to bid on the Buffalo Bills.
As first reported by Sun Media, the Bills sale process kicked off on Wednesday when the investment bank and law firm running the sale sent a non-disclosure agreement and a teaser sale document to prospective bidders.
What did Bon Jovi and Goodell discuss? That’s the big question.
To delve down that road would be pure-grade speculation.
So of course let’s go down that road.
First of all, know that the two men, Goodell and Bon Jovi, have been friends for years. Were they kibitzing about limo services, their love of disco music, crossword puzzles or something else non-football related? Maybe.
More likely they were discussing NFL ownership. In which case, was the commish giving Bon Jovi the bad news that the Bills likely will be sold to a local owner, meaning his Toronto bid group is doomed?
Or was the commish telling him precisely what his group needs to do to have a chance to win the bid?
Or what Bon Jovi needs to do to meet certain financial thresholds of principal ownership? Forbes last year estimated Bon Jovi’s entire net worth to be about $300 million — which, if accurate, almost certainly would not qualify him to become a principal NFL owner, because he’ll need that much in cash, maybe more, just to meet the minimum 30% principal-owner threshold. And remember, the NFL prefers that a principal owner have another $200 million in cash in reserve.
Or were the commish and Bon Jovi already moving on, discussing possible other future NFL ownership stakes?
Who knows. Such speculation isn’t worth a 38-year-old running back with two bum knees.
What we do know is that Bon Jovi desperately wants to join the NFL’s ownership club. His personal publicist, Ken Sunshine, told Sun Media in April that “Jon remains passionate in his pursuit of an NFL franchise.”
And he has high-powered allies in that pursuit. Beyond his friendship with Goodell, Bon Jovi is a good friend of a few owners, no one more so than influential New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
And Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New York Giants co-owner John Mara both told Sun Media last month at the NFL spring meeting that Bon Jovi would make an outstanding owner. Jones suggested many owners feel the same way.
For now, neither Bon Jovi nor Tanenbaum nor anyone else connected with their Toronto-based bid group is saying a word about their bid publicly.
PEGULA ISSUES STATEMENT
Meantime on Friday, Buffalo Sabres vice-president of media relations Michael Gilbert issued a statement on behalf of owner Terry Pegula, regarding his intentions with the Bills. Speculation shot through the roof in Western New York over the past week as to whether he will bid on the Bills.
That Pegula received the non-disclosure agreement and teaser sale document from the Bills’ transaction team on Wednesday on its own reveals nothing about Pegula’s intentions. The transaction team was expected to reach out to all potential bidders whose names have appeared in the press, whether or not they have informed the Bills’ transaction team that they intend to bid.
Jeff Russo, sports director for WKBW-TV in Buffalo, reported late last week that Pegula and wife Kim not only intend to bid for the Bills, according to multiple sources, but are “very determined” to obtain the team.
A Sun Media source with knowledge of the situation on Friday has since learned that that report is accurate.
Pegula did not deny as much in Friday’s statement. That is by far the most important takeaway.
Always remember, it often is more informative what a person in the public eye does not say in such a circumstance than does say. Especially in this case.
If Pegula does not intend to bid on the NFL club, in the current circus atmosphere he would be insane not to declare as much — just as the Jacobs family did last week.
Why? Because Pegula likely is more financially liquid than any of the billionaires with Western New York ties. And Bills fans are so consumed with worry over whether their beloved team will stay or leave, they’re already seeing him as the most likely local white knight who’ll ride in and save the day — that is, keep the team in Buffalo.
So to leave himself out there as that potential hero if he has no intention to be one would potentially open him to wicked and pronounced backlash once the public were to learn the truth.
He’s too smart to do that.
Judge for yourself. Here is Gilbert’s carefully worded statement in its entirety:
“Terry and Kim Pegula have a deep commitment to Buffalo and Western New York. Their ownership of the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans and the construction of HARBORCENTER are evidence of that fact.
“Like everyone else in this community, they have a strong desire to have the Buffalo Bills remain a centrepiece of this region. “Accordingly, they have been following the developments involving the sale of the Bills. However, out of respect for the process being conducted by representatives of the Wilson Estate and the Bills, they will not be making any additional comments about the sale process.”
Hardly a denial.
JACOBS STADIUM? NOPE
Reports of out Western New York late last week suggested that while the Jacobs family will not bid on the Bills — and Sun Media last month was first to report that, at most, the Jacobs family would provide only over-the-top cash to bolster a local bid group — the Jacobs might still take part in the process by building and/or owning at least part of a new Bills stadium.
Don’t count on it.
On Sunday night, reporter Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily tweeted that that “won’t happen” in Buffalo, because the NFL rejected just such a scenario with AEG in Los Angeles.
Kaplan provided reasons in a Monday morning interview on Buffalo radio station WBEN AM-930.
A call to sports franchise and stadium expert Marc Ganis confirmed Kaplan’s assessment.
There has not been third-party control or ownership of a new NFL stadium (meaning by other than the team itself or public sector) in a generation. There have been cases where outside companies manage publicly owned stadiums, but that’s it, Ganis said.
But could the billionaire Jacobs family — led by patriarch Jeremy and sons Jerry, Lou and Charlie — still get involved by helping merely to run the new stadium? Absolutely, Ganis said.
“There are other ways they could get involved,” he said. “The obvious one is their concessions and merchandise operations, which in many ways is the bread and butter of Delaware North, and their SportService subsidiary. They also could get involved in services related to the stadium, they could provide funding in other ways, and they could coalesce the Buffalo business community as one of the leaders of it.
“So there are a host of ways that the Jacobs family could get involved, short of ownership of the team, or ownership of the stadium.”