SBD/May 13, 2014/Franchises

Former Islanders Owner Howard Milstein Says He Will Not Bid To Buy Bills

Milstein owns a 142-acre parcel of developable land in Niagara Falls
New York Private Bank & Trust Chair, President & CEO Howard Milstein announced that he will not be "participating in the sales process or making a bid" to buy the Bills, according to John Kryk of the QMI AGENCY. However, Milstein is "open to providing the land for a new stadium in Niagara Falls, N.Y." Milstein's ties to Western New York “include owning a 142-acre parcel of developable land in Niagara Falls, adjacent to Seneca Niagara Casino" (QMI AGENCY, 5/12). In Buffalo, Tom Precious notes Milstein, a co-owner of the Islanders from '98-'00 before the team was sold to Charles Wang, "failed in 1999 in his bid to buy" the Redskins. In addition to Milstein's role with New York Private Bank, his family "owns thousands of properties with an emphasis on New York City development." His comments "came on the same day that a consulting firm started scouting possible locations for a new football stadium" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/13).

Precious noted if past NFL transactions are any guide, the process for selling the Bills is "similar in many ways to selling your parents' house, including approval from the estate’s trust, a battery of financial background checks, inspection of the structure and its expenses, and a detailed appraisal by the seller -- and buyer -- of the Bills’ bottom-line value." While some reports suggest late Bills Owner Ralph Wilson Jr.'s trust "might try to sell the team by July," experts said that the "potential roadblocks and snags are so many that July is an ambitious date." A source said that an investment bank’s examination of the team's finances "will take at least a month." Another source said that Donald Trump "already has had three conversations" about the Bills with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/12). Meanwhile, a BUFFALO NEWS editorial stated, "The good news for Western New Yorkers is that the right people are on board with the mission of ensuring that the Buffalo Bills stay right here where they belong." The Bills are "too much a part of this town -- of its psyche, its identity, its oxygen supply -- to allow the team to slip away over a mere billion or so dollars" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/11).
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