Tom Golisano–from the Sabres to the Bills?


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A familiar name to local sports fans seems to be interested in the Buffalo Bills: Former Sabres owner Tom Golisano might make a bid to buy the team.

The billionaire is credited with saving the Sabres — and keeping the team here back in 2003. Could he do the same for the Bills?

Golisano joins a growing list of prospective high profile public figures in the Bills ownership sweepstakes.

Now that the team has hired the investment bank Morgan Stanley and the international law firm Proskauer-Rose to screen potential buyers, the serious “tire-kicking” should get underway shortly.

Tom Golisano has shown an interest in owning the Bills going back as early as 2008, when the Sabres were still under his wing. Golisano was asked about the future of the Bills in Buffalo, without owner Ralph Wilson, on February 12, 2008, and Golisano said, “It would be a serious shame if the Buffalo Bills were ever to leave the Buffalo area, and as a citizen–and maybe someone involved on the financial side of it–I would do what I could to try to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.”

But at that time, the late Ralph Wilson was still in charge, and the team was not for sale. Still, Matt Sabuda, the president of the Buffalo Fan Alliance, says Golisano’s commitment to Western New York is well documented, adding, the billionaire businessman “is a guy who has shown, over the years, that he is very committed to protecting assets in Western New York.”

Sabuda also believes, the Bills and the National Football League would seem to be a much better fit financially for the billionaire businessman than the Sabres and the National Hockey League were, “The revenue-sharing possibilities–just the sheer revenue they generate–make for a really good business decision, and I think a guy like Tom Golisano recognizes that, and sees that there is a lot of opportunities here in Western New York.”

Sabuda says the most important piece in the Bills ownership puzzle would be a new stadium, and the Fan Alliance is forming a tax-exempt capital building fund, to accept donations from Bills fans who have moved from the area, that would to provide no interest seed money for the next owner.

For instance, Sabuda says when most banks are offering, “an interest rate of 6-8% for unsecured debt, the interest savings on a 0% loan of even $100 million would be substantial.”

Sabuda revealed the Fan Alliance has had talks with two prospective owner groups, but he said he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement to keep the names under wraps.

Bills officials are saying talks with potential owners, and ownership groups, could start sometime next month.

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