Ed Kilgore: ‘It’s very busy behind the curtain’ in Bills ownership discussions
blog by Ben Kirst • June 16, 2012 @ 11:04am
Channel 2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore is kind of the sportscaster emeritus in town. Say what you want about him, I have a bit of a soft spot for the guy, mainly because he sat a couple seats down from me in the press box when I covered the Buffalo Sabres from 2003 to 2006 and he was always ready to chat with anyone in his immediate airspace. Unlike some of the other “big-time” local media members, Kilgore—and Tim Graham, I should add, who was covering the Sabres for The Buffalo News at the time—was always willing to talk hockey, football and politics with whoever was willing to listen. And man, did he get after the complimentary chocolate chip cookies between periods.
Anyhow: far more interesting than anecdotes from my salad days is the news on WGRZ.com via Kilgore that wheels are in motion at 1 Bills Drive in regards to the future ownership of the National Football League’s Buffalo club. In an article published on Thursday, “Bills future in Buffalo partly sunny,” Kilgore made a number of interesting statements, all based on unnamed “sources,” including:
1. Bills owner Ralph Wilson wants Machine Gun Kelly to run the show. Writes Kilgore: “Wilson, I’m told, would love to have Bills hall of famer Jim Kelly be a part of any group that buys the Bills, because that would automatically mean the team would remain in Buffalo. Although Kelly makes no secret about his desire to become involved when the time comes, he’s quite respectful of Ralph’s refusal to talk about the future, and besides, he’s still on Ralph’s payroll as a ‘goodwill ambassador.’”
2. KIlgore makes it clear Kelly is not the source for this tidbit—that the NFL is actually weeding out potential ownership contenders and pretenders. Sez Ed: “...a vetting process has been underway for several months or more, and there are multiple groups anxious to make their best pitch at the Bills when they get that chance. Supposedly commissioner Roger Goodell is aware of this movement but will never openly acknowledge any of it, for obvious reasons.” The obvious reason, of course, being that it’s kind of unsavory to work out a plan for the future of the team while current ownership is, you know, alive.
3. Kilgore claims “...there are two or three groups” who have both the cash to buy the team and the wherewithal to keep the Bills in Buffalo. However, Kilgore also reports that some groups—he doesn’t say if they are pro-Buffalo or not—“...don’t have a clue as to how to go about buying an NFL team.” In fairness, it’s not exactly something you and your realtor can hash out over coffee.
4. We now start to get into the too-good-to-be-true territory regarding the possibility of new digs for the team: “These would be owners feel the future of the Bills is almost entirely dependant on the eventual construction of a new stadium either in downtown Buffalo or more towards Niagara Falls and Canada. Not only that, these people would be willing to finance most of the cost of a new stadium privately. I’ll believe that when I see it, because I’m skeptical too, but people I respect insist this is true.” BUILD IT DOWNTOWN. Yeah, but seriously, there is enough cash in town to purchase the team (the “cheapest” team in the NFL in 2008 was the Minnesota Vikings, and they were valued at $839 million) and build a new stadium (the Dallas Cowboys’ new arena—and granted, it is pretty damn opulent—cost $1.3 billion)? Are we all going to have to help build this, like the pyramids?
So what does this all mean? Without names and direct quotes, not much. It’s comforting—Kilgore is a fairly connected guy, I suppose—but there’s nothing here that is really new, or anything we probably didn’t suspect, anyways. AEG plans to build a new stadium in Los Angeles and wants a team as early as next year. Buffalo still lacks the corporate juice of other markets (although the new Toronto deal helps). The bottom line is, unfortunately, that we probably won’t know what will happen until…well, it seems tasteless to say.
Photo from Flickr / mark.watmough.