Columnist: Group Working To Bring NFL To Toronto

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The passing of Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson brings with it speculation about what happens to the team when it is eventually sold, and an insider in Toronto says the players are in place and the money is in the bank to try to bring an NFL team to that city.

David Shoalts, a sports columnist with the Globe and Mail, said the wealthy and influential team of Larry Tanenbaum, Tim Leiweke, and Edward Rogers, is working behind the scenes to get a franchise.

"The money has been there," Shoalts said, "And the enthusiasm on the part of the people that have the money has been there for many years."

Tanenbaum is the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports + Entertainment, which owns several professional teams and venues.

"Larry Tanenbaum has been chasing an NFl team for a number of years," Shoalts said.

Then you have Leiweke, who is now CEO of MLSE. Leiweke is the former CEO of AEG, which for years has been trying to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles. Leiweke heads up the new stadium efforts.

"I believe he's got at least the outline of what they'd like to do with an NFL stadium," Shoalts said.

Finally, there is Rogers, who would likely be the majority owner of a potential Toronto NFL franchise. His family, which owns the Rogers Communications empire, is worth $6.41 billion, according to a Globe and Mail analysis.

"Any Toronto bid that's going to have the involvement of these people would be done by the Rogers family, and people tend to think that Edward Rogers, who is in his mid 40s, would be the front guy there," Shoalts explained.

The potential Toronto buyers aren't necessarily set on the Bills, Shoalts said. They could be eyeing other possibilities, including others teams or a possible expansion team.

What's unclear now is whether or not the long-term lease between the Bills and Erie County, which all but assures the team cannot relocate until 2020 at the earlier, would affect their plans.


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