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Toronto Sun: Golisano To Bid For Bills



(WBEN/AP) - The Buffalo Bills have hired legal and financial advisers to help with the sale of the team. One of those seeking to buy the team is former Sabres owner Tom Golisano, according to the Toronto Sun.

Amid fears a new owner could eventually relocate the team, Golisano had previously said he would do all he could to ensure the Bills' future in western New York. But now the Toronto Sun says he has taken it a step further and will bid for the team.

At a news conference announcing his sale of the Sabres in February of 2011, Golisano was asked about possible interest in the Bills. "Would I be interested in the Bills? I think the key issue would be the level of concern I would have about them leaving the community," Golisano said. "The higher the concern, the more interest I would have."

"If there were people here in the community that had the wherewithal and the desire to take over the team, and didn't need what I have to offer, I'd say that would be great, I would be happy."

In the years since he sold the Sabres to Terry Pegula, Golisano has been criticized by some fans who accuse him of cutting costs and being stingy with the team. Former Erie County Democratic Chairman and friend of Golisano, Steve Pigeon, says those criticisms are misguided. "So many people forget that the team was in bankruptcy, and was going to move out of Buffalo," Pigeon said. "I went to him and said... why don't you take a look at this? He saved that team from moving when previously he had no interest in being a sports owner, and looking back, those were pretty good years."

Pigeon says it would be foolish for Bills fans to not be welcoming of Golisano.

"I think the fact that somebody that has the options that he has, that can do anything, live anywhere, be anywhere, the fact that he's concerned that the Buffalo Bills would leave Buffalo, I think it's laudable. Anybody who would say otherwise, I don't know where they're living, but they're not living very smart."

Golisano will reportedly ask the NFL for pre-approval, and may mount a solo bid or be the lead bidder along with one other partner, according to an article from sports columnist John Kryk, who writes: 
 
" Former Buffalo Sabres owner Thomas Golisano indeed plans to bid on the Buffalo Bills once the team goes on sale.

A source familiar with Golisano’s intentions confirmed as much on Wednesday night.

This comes as no surprise in Western New York. Reports for more than a month have pegged the billionaire originally from Rochester, N.Y., as a likely, even expected, bidder."   
 

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The Golisano coverage comes one day after the team took definite steps to find and screen a new owner, and assess the team's worth, appointing a legal and financial team  who may begin talking with prospective buyers within the next month.


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AP Sports Reporter
John Wawrow

 

The announcement Wednesday of a transaction team that includes Morgan Stanley financial advisers and Proskauer Rose legal experts came a day after the Bills' chief financial officer, Jeffrey Littmann, updated NFL owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell about the sale process during league meetings in Atlanta.

The Bills, whose long-term future became uncertain with the death of owner Ralph Wilson in March, were last valued by Forbes to be worth $870 million. The price tag is expected to approach $1 billion because NFL teams don't often come up for sale and numerous prospective owners may become involved in the bidding. The Cleveland Browns sold for about that much when Jimmy Haslam purchased the team in 2012.

A new owner could be selected by Wilson's estate by the end of July and presented for approval at league meetings in October.

Donald Trump and former Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly are among those who've shown interest in owning the Bills.

Another prospective group could include Toronto-based businessmen Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and Edward Rogers, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications.

Other names that have been circulating include Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

The family of Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs also has said he would work to keep the Bills in Buffalo without saying whether he would bid for the team.

Bills President Russ Brandon said in a statement that the transaction team would ensure that the sale complies both with NFL rules and the team's obligations to New York State and Erie County under a 10-year lease agreement that essentially locks the Bills into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season.

Goodell this month said a new stadium would be the next step in securing the team's long-term future.

Under the current lease, reached in December 2012, the Bills would incur a $400 million penalty by even broaching the prospect of moving during the lease's term. There is a one-time exception that would allow the Bills to break the agreement for just under $28.4 million in 2020.


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