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One Guarantee in Bills' Sale: New Owner Will Make Money

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Just how much money can someone expect to make owning the Buffalo Bills?

"From what I'm told, bidders are going to be pleasantly surprised with the financials." says Sports Business Journal's Dan Kaplan.

The Process:  How To Sell A Football Team

 As many as 60 potential bidders for the Buffalo Bills have received preliminary financial information on the team, but only a handful will likely put in a bid for the team, and those who will have already done their homework.

"This is not like buying a shirt. This is a billion dollar transaction."
  -- Jim Fink, Business First

Bidders have already set thier prices.

"They know what their bid is going to be, they've met with the Bills, they've met with the NFL. They have investment bankers to oversee the bidding process," says John Wawrow of the Associated Press.

"The meetings with Morgan Stanley will be important as far as flushing out more financial information, but the major players have had their plans in place for some time."

Wawrow tells WGR SportsRadio 550 the Wilson estate wants to get the sale done sooner rather than later.

But  there's still a possibility of delay in approval from the NFL owners.

"We're still in the first inning,"  says  Jim Fink of Buffalo Business First.

Fink says the estate is not beholden to any time frame to execute the sale.

"I know several prospective bidders have received the bid package, but the return dates are variable," explains Fink.

Fink says once the bids come in, expect the estate to pore over them carefully.

"This is not like buying a shirt. This is a billion dollar transaction when they are all said and done.So there's a lot of due diligence and negotiations going back and forth," notes Fink.
"Many see (the Bills) as financially a bottom-tier team. That's not the case"

- Dan Kaplan, Sports Business Journal

"They're probably middle of the third-quartile pack of the NFL." Kaplan says.

Kaplan says he believes the Bills rank about 20th in revenues in the NFL, meaning about 12 teams don't bring in as much money as Buffalo. 

To put that information in perspective, he suggests a look at the  Green Bay Packers, who have to report certain financial information because they are partly a publicly owned entity.

"We're fortunate that the Packers are at least publicly owned enough to have to put these kind of numbers out," said Richard Ryman of the Green Bay Press Gazette. "It does provide us a nice viewpoint on what's going on with other teams."

   Green Bay 2013-14 financial results
• National revenue: $187.7 million
• Local revenue: $136.4 million
• Total revenue: $324.1 million
• Total expenses: $298.5 million
• Profit from operations: $25.6 million
• Net income: $25.3 million
Source: Green Bay Packers/Green Bay Press Gazette

The Packers reported a total revenue of $324.1 Million. The number was boosted this year by renovations done to Lambeau Field including a team store that's open year round, something that should sound familiar to Bills fans. But revenues don't tell the whole story. A potential owner may only care about what goes in to his own pocket.

"If you look at net income, it's probably very good for the Bills because they don't have any debt," Kaplan said. "If you look at the Green Bay Packers, which are 9th in revenues, they just reported $324 Million but their net income is $25 Million. My expectation would be the Bills would actually have quite a bit more than that in net income."

Kaplan adds there is reason to believe the Bills will continue to do well financially as more pocketbooks are boosted by national revenues such as TV deals. "Where revenues are trending in the NFL, largely - 60, 70, soon 80% - of team's revenues are going to come from National revenues that are equally shared. You're only talking about a quarter or less of a team's revenues coming from other sources."

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, $187.7 Million of the Packers' revenue was reported as "National Revenue."

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People : Dan KaplanRichard RymanWill Make