The Associated Press reports that contrary to popular perception, Donald Trump’s attempt to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills is not a publicity stunt. It’s the real deal.
Trump, along with Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, has been selected to advance to the second round of the bidding war for the team.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s executive vice president and special counsel, told the AP that Morgan Stanley, the banking firm handling the team’s sale, told him Trump had been chosen, saying, “Mr. Trump’s significant wealth, name recognition and real estate knowledge makes him a viable option.”
Trump’s forays into sports has resulted in victories and defeats. Critics blame his spending spree on the New Jersey Generals, and push to compete with the NFL in the fall, for the demise of the USFL. Affliction Entertainment, a competitor to the UFC, similarly went out of the fight business shortly after Trump’s investment. But Trump’s Atlantic City properties have hosted some of the biggest fights in boxing history, including the 91-second Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks heavyweight championship match in 1988.
Trump is not only trying to buy the Buffalo Bills without any partners, but is also ready to buy it in cash. Since previous Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson died in March, the Pegulas have been quiet about their attempts to buy the team. Forbes has estimated the value of the franchise at $870 million but the sale price may escalate to least $1 billion.
The Tuesday deadline for non-binding bids was not a hard deadline; other bids can still be entertained, including a Toronto group of which rock musician Jon Bon Jovi is a part.
The bidding process next proceeds to prospective bidders meeting with Morgan Stanley and members of the estate in order to find out the financial state of the team. Bills President Russ Brandon will offer a presentation to those bidders. After that, formal bids will be tendered. Because the bidding process is unsealed, Wilson’s estate can ask bidders to up their offers.
The small-market that hosts the Bills and the antiquated state of 41-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium makes the NFL’s Buffalo franchise a cheaper buy than most of the league’s other teams.