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WASHINGTON – As a 5 p.m. deadline approaches for initial bids to buy the Buffalo Bills, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said today that he has spoken with several of the potential purchasers – and that a number of them are strong candidates who would commit to keeping the team in Western New York.

“Over the past few months I have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with a number of potential buyers as well as with the NFL and local and state leaders,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “I am confident as preliminary bids are submitted, and as we move into the next phase of this process, that there will be a number of serious bidders who will commit to keeping the Buffalo Bills in Western New York for decades to come.”

Schumer, the state’s senior senator and the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has taken a keen interest in the Bills’ future, and he said he plans to keep the pressure on to make sure the Bills stay in Buffalo.

“In the coming weeks I plan to continue to engage with those bidders, as well as with the league office and the current ownership to ensure that one of those bidders committed to Western New York is successful in this process,” Schumer said. “As I have said from the beginning – when it comes to the next owner of the Buffalo Bills there can be only one litmus test: someone willing to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York for generations to come.”

Morgan Stanley, which is handling the sale of the Bills from the estate of their late founder, Ralph C. Wilson Jr., has given interested parties until 5 p.m. today to submit a “notice of intent” that they plan to bid on the team.

The notices of intent must include a nonbinding initial bid and an explanation of its financing. After reviewing the notices of intent, Morgan Stanley will eliminate bids that disqualify and ask the remaining prospective bidders for more information.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com