BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Jacobs family is, in fact, involved in helping secure the Bills' future in Buffalo, and hasn't ruled out getting involved in buying the team.
Jeremy Jacobs Jr., the son of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Sr., told The Buffalo News on Wednesday that the family has been engaged in discussions involving the franchise's future, but said it was too early to say whether it will make an attempt to buy the team.
"We are using our resources, our contacts, our relationships to do everything we can to ensure the Bills stay in Buffalo," Jacobs said in a story published on the newspaper's website.
Jacobs, however, stopped short of saying his family would be involved in a prospective ownership group.
"It's still early in the process, and it's impossible to say either way," he said.
Jacobs' comments were the first made by any family member expressing interest in the team. Bills owner Ralph Wilson died last month.
And his comments do not contradict a statement his father issued last week. In a released statement, Jacobs Sr. said he has no intention of selling the Bruins in order to purchase the Bills, a move that would be required because NFL rules do not allow owners to control major sports franchises in separate markets.
Jacobs' statement failed to address whether any of his three sons would be involved in an ownership group.
Several people familiar with the Bills' future had previously told The Associated Press that Jacobs and his sons were linked to discussions involving the teams.
"He is definitely a player," one person told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because Jacobs has not revealed his plans.
Members of the Jacobs family have declined interview requests with the AP over the past three weeks.
The Jacobs are from Buffalo and own Delaware North food service company, which has its headquarters in the city. Jeremy Jr., Louis and Charlie Jacobs are all listed as principals at Delaware North. Charlie Jacobs is also a principal of the Bruins.
In 2010, the NFL allowed Stan Kroenke to take over as the St. Louis Rams' majority owner after he agreed to turn over operational and financial control of the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche to son Josh.
Wilson's widow, Mary Wilson, has taken over as the team's controlling owner until the franchise is expected to be placed on the market. That won't begin until Wilson's estate hires an investment banking firm, which will oversee the sale process.
That leaves the team's future in Buffalo uncertain, because a sale opens the possibility of the team relocating.
The Bills are essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of the lease they negotiated with the state and Erie County in December 2012. The team would incur a $400 million penalty by even broaching the prospect of moving during the lease's term. There is a one-time exception allowing the Bills to break the lease for just under $28.4 million in July 2020.
The Jacobs do face one obstacle because of NFL rules barring owners from having links to casinos, racetracks and other gaming interests. Delaware North's holding include numerous racing and gambling operations across the country.
"We have warts," Jeremy Jr. acknowledged, referring to league's anti-gambling rules.
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