SBD/July 31, 2014/Franchises

Golisano Could Still Submit Bid For Bills, As Team Reportedly Willing To Extend Deadline

Golisano may become the fourth bidder with interest in buying the Bills
Former Sabres Owner Tom Golisano was not among the three bids "known to have been submitted" for the Bills by the initial deadline Tuesday afternoon, but it "does not mean he won’t submit a bid in the future," according to a source cited by Jerry Zremski of the BUFFALO NEWS. The source said that Golisano "believes he is still eligible and could enter the bidding sweepstakes Thursday or Friday by contacting the Morgan Stanley investment bankers handling the sale process for the Bills." The source added, "His plan is to call Morgan Stanley and ask: 'Are you interested in another bid?' He’s not out of it yet." Current Sabres Owner Terry Pegula, Donald Trump and a Toronto-based group led by Jon Bon Jovi and MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum have submitted preliminary bids, but the source said that "many more were expected." Meanwhile, another source confirmed an earlier Toronto Sun report indicating that developer Scott Congel, who has "proposed a Bills stadium site for West Seneca, will discuss his ideas with the Bon Jovi group." Zremski notes the move "would not preclude Congel from entering into an eventual relationship with Golisano should he succeed in purchasing the team" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/31). In Buffalo, James Fink cited sources as saying that "all three bids were for more than" $1B, with Pegula's "believed to be" in the $1.3B range. The bidding "opens the door for the next phase of the sale process where more detailed financial data will be supplied to the three respondents and negotiations can begin." The initials bids are "just an early step in what is a very complicated sales process." It is possible the Ralph Wilson estate trustees, led be his widow Mary and longtime Bills CFO Jeff Littman, "could instruct Morgan Stanley and Proskauer Rose to re-open the bidding" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/30).

THE RACE IS ON: QMI AGENCY's John Kryk cited a source as saying that the Toronto group's "bid limit would be about" $1.2B. Another source said that the limit "likely is even less than that, just above" $1B (QMI AGENCY, 7/30). However, the Buffalo News' Tim Graham cites two sources as saying that "every bid number that has been reported so far is wrong" (TWITTER.com, 7/31). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Weiss & Kosman cite sources as saying that Trump will "sell any remaining casino assets he owns" if his $1B-plus bid "emerges as the highest accepted offer" for the Bills (N.Y. POST, 7/31). 

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes Pegula will "be the last man standing when all is said and done" because his desire to own the Bills "runs as deep as his pockets." Nearly every "major variable in this equation leans toward Pegula in his quest to become an NFL owner." He is prepared to pay "considerably more than the small-market franchise is worth, which should satisfy Ralph Wilson's estate." Plus, he has "close ties to the community and will keep the team in Buffalo." In other words, he is "willing to spend big money, stupid money, because he can" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/31). But in Orlando, David Whitley writes the NFL "should award the franchise to Bon Jovi or Trump," because that would "make people notice the Bills, which very few Americans have since the O.J. trial" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/31).
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