SBD/August 1, 2014/Franchises

Status Of Toronto Group's Bid For Bills Up In The Air As Pegula, Trump Deemed Finalists

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Trump bid for the Bills on his own after electing against being joined by partners
The status of the Toronto-based group bidding for the Bills "turned mysterious late Thursday evening," according to John Kryk of QMI AGENCY. While evening reports confirmed that Sabres Owner Terry Pegula and developer Donald Trump "have been selected as finalists, indications were unclear regarding where things stand" in the bid by musician Jon Bon Jovi, MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Finances with the Toronto group "were known to be an issue," as was "their intention previous to the summer to relocate the franchise to Toronto at first opportunity." Sources on Wednesday said that the Toronto group "could not ultimately bid as high" as the $1.3B that Pegula was reported to have submitted in Tuesday's first round. A source on Thursday said that the Toronto group "bid surprisingly low." Despite Trump "gauging his chances of success as 'very, very unlikely' in an interview Monday night with Fox News, he's a surprise finalist in the race to buy the Bills." Many now think that it "would be an upset" if Pegula "is not chosen as the winning buyer." If the process "plays out as scheduled, at some point in the next two weeks finalists will meet" with investment bank Morgan Stanley and the trust of late Bills Owner Ralph Wilson Jr. (QMI AGENCY, 7/31).

PLAYING THE TRUMP CARD: The AP's John Wawrow noted Trump is "bidding on his own after electing against being joined by partners." Trump is prepared to "make an all-cash offer" (AP, 7/31). However, Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch said that he "would have a lot of questions" for Trump "before approving him as the owner" of the Bills. Tisch said that he would ask Trump "about his views on ownership, and what he could add to an NFL team." In N.Y., Kosman & Weiss note while Trump "is friendly with Tisch and other NFL owners, the league, which has long tried to distance itself from sports betting, would likely want to steer clear of his casino holdings" (N.Y. POST, 8/1).

MYSTERY MAN: In Buffalo, Jerry Zremski notes Wilson's last will and testament "leaves no clues" about his intentions regarding the sale of the team. Instead, Wilson's will -- filed in Wayne County (Mich.) Probate Court last month -- "leaves all the important details of his estate to a trust agreement that, under Michigan law, is not public" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/1).
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