Niagara Gazette

Sports

June 8, 2014

Bills fans do all they can to keep team in Buffalo

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The alliance has four Bills Hall of Famers: Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton, Billy Shaw and Andre Reed on an advisory board that also includes Republican strategist Carl Forti and NBC News correspondent Luke Russert, whose Buffalo-born late father, Tim Russert, often signed off “Meet the Press” with “Go Bills.”

As the alliance banks on the practical, the fan-based “12th Man Thunder” counts on emotion to add names to the more than 9,300 signatures on a petition that pledges loyalty to a buyer who would keep the Bills in Buffalo — and to snub anyone who doesn’t.

The group also has distributed “Bon Jovi Free Zone” posters to bars, shops and radio stations and said nearly 200 businesses have signed on to a summerlong boycott.

“Jack FM has always liked Bon Jovi, but like you, we LOVE our Buffalo Bills,” reads the website of one of three radio stations participating.

A spokesman for Jon Bon Jovi, who has been linked to a Toronto-based developer interested in purchasing an NFL franchise, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Other potential suitors include Donald Trump, former Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano and the family of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. Wilson’s estate’s legal team is expected to begin contacting prospective buyers in the next few weeks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, meanwhile, has hired a business legal expert as part of political efforts to keep the team in place. Cuomo, the Bills and Erie County also have created a 20-member “New Stadium Working Group” of community leaders and elected officials.

Fans remain nervous despite a non-relocation clause in the current lease with Erie County that makes it difficult for the team to move before the 2020 season. It’s the deep-pocketed bidder with unknown intentions they are bracing against.

“We figured if there’s something we could do, whether it was small or large, we were going to do it,” said Pellien, a truck driver who grew up next to Ralph Wilson Stadium. “Because if something happened and our team left and we didn’t do anything, how would that make us feel?”

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