Three bids are known to have been submitted for the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, but B. Thomas Golisano was not among the bidders.
That does not mean he won’t submit a bid in the future, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
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 said.
Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, as well as billionaire developer Donald Trump have submitted preliminary bids, The News confirmed. The Toronto Sun reported that a Toronto group that involves rock star Jon Bon Jovi also submitted a bid.
Business First reporter James Fink said on WBEN radio this morning he was told Pegula’s bid was $1.3 billion. The New York Post had previously reported Pegula’s bid topped $1 billion.
So where is Golisano?
“His plan is to call Morgan Stanley and ask: ‘Are you interested in another bid?’” the source said. “He’s not out of it yet.”
The source added he understands only three bids were submitted before the Tuesday deadline, when many more were expected.
A source close to Scott R. Congel, meanwhile, confirmed an earlier Toronto Sun report indicating the mall developer who has proposed a Bills stadium site for West Seneca will discuss his ideas with the Bon Jovi group – headed by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment executive Larry Tannenbaum. The move would not preclude Congel from entering into an eventual relationship with Golisano should he succeed in purchasing the team, as previously reported in The News.
The clock began ticking Tuesday on the most important game of the year for the Bills: the bidding contest over who will buy the team from the estate of its founder, the late Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.
Other bids also were expected in the highly secretive sales process, which only Sen. Charles E. Schumer shed any light on Tuesday.
In a statement, Schumer said he expected strong bids from several potential owners 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-NY, 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.”
Morgan Stanley will sort the solid bids out from the inadequate ones and then ask for more information from prospective owners who are still in the running.
Schumer, the state’s senior senator and the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has taken a keen interest in the Bills’ future and said he plans to keep the pressure on to make sure they 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.”
For now, however, the Bills’ future resides largely in secret “notices of intent” that prospective team owners filed with Morgan Stanley, which Wilson’s estate named to handle the team’s sale after Wilson’s death March 25. The notices were to include a nonbinding initial bid and an explanation of its financing.
Some bidders are known, such as Trump, even if he publicly discounted his chances of ever occupying the owner’s box to Fox Sports late Monday.
“Everyone knows I’ll be doing that. I’ll be bidding,” he said. “But many other people will be bidding. And I would say the chances are very, very unlikely, because I’m not going to do something totally stupid – maybe just a little bit stupid, but not totally stupid.”
“It’s going to be one of many bids,” he added. “There will be many bids, and we’ll see what happens.”
A top Trump aide said Tuesday that nobody should misinterpret the remarks, indicating Trump remains in the hunt.
“He’s referring to the crazy number bid on the L.A. Clippers, and this is the first NFL team in a long time to hit the market,” said Michael Cohen, executive vice president and special counsel to Trump. “His thought is that somebody may come in with some stupid number. Donald Trump is not going to chase stupid.”
News Sports Reporter Tim Graham contributed to this report.