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Tom Golisano wants to keep Bills in WNY but adds he won't get into a bidding war

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Tom Golisano declared his preference to purchase the Buffalo Bills and keep them in Western New York.

Though not at any cost.

Golisano, speaking today at Bishop Kearney High in Irondequoit, also said the Buffalo Sabres were a bigger threat to leave the area when he bought them in 2003 than the Bills are now and suggested state politicians are in favor of the Bills playing in a domed or retractable-roof stadium.

"Everybody has a degree of reasonableness," Golisano said in an article by Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reporter Justin Murphy. "If it costs way more than I'm willing to pay, then I won't feel bad if I don't get them. I'll only feel bad if they move out of Western New York."

The Buffalo News and Associated Press have reported Golisano could partner with Scott Congel, a developer with local ties. Sources told The News that Congel is exploring a $700 million stadium on a 55-acre site in West Seneca.

"The important thing is someone ... keeps it in Western New York," Golisano said. "Do I feel it has to be me? No, I'm not possessed about owning the Buffalo Bills, just as I wasn't possessed about owning the Buffalo Sabres.

"They were in danger of leaving, too. In fact, they were a lot closer to leaving than the Bills are. I got involved then because I wanted to keep that entity in Western New York, and I want to keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York."

Golisano also wondered aloud why $130 million in renovations were being poured into Ralph Wilson Stadium when a new venue might be necessary to keep the team around.

"My guess and it's strictly a guess, is the stadium will be covered," he said. "I don't know if it'll have a sliding roof or just a permanent roof, but my guess is it will be covered.

And the state government, our governor and some of our U.S. senators are very much in favor of this happening."

  • Michael Sabreland

    Tom,Terry,Donald should all get together and form a partnership and bring in the few bills people who are wanting in like kelly and so forth and put in a nice offer so that no one else can sneak them away and it would make it a more attractable thing for the main 3 then

    • watchthegame

      What? And share egos?

      • Michael Martinez

        I still recall hearing somewhere some time back that "Rich stadium-The Ralph was initialy built in code, strength, engineering and architecturally for the expansion, addition and placement of a domed covering.

        • UncleBluck

          If you look how the upper decks are structured and placed you can see that it would not be possible to put a roof on them...the lateral loads would tip them over.....the end zone walls might be sound enough, though........

    • turtle

      We need support from the Governor, our Senators and our congressional representatives before it is too late. Time for them to earn our votes. It is always politics...

  • Jon S.

    This guy makes sense.
    He's the only one who has all of this in perspective.
    The media folks are inventing stories everyday with guesses and speculation that really don't add up to anything at all. I suspect it's a good way to fill time and space - by slapping something together and tossing it out there.
    Viewers, listeners and readers really deserve more.
    It's refreshing to hear a rich guy, who can afford the Bills - call it as he sees it.

  • Puck4life

    This guy has practical experience, equally has a very strong opinion, as fans I would say we are lucky to have him chiming in as much as he is already, otherwise we are left in the dark, with a really uncertain future about our beloved Bills.
    In another note, we all know we don't have much say in this debate as fans, but when all the chips are down, you should feel that you at least tried to voice your opinion. Check out and sign the 12th man petition please (If you haven't done so already):

    http://www.12thmanthunder.com/petition

  • BuffaloB

    This is not news

  • Jean Skora

    Exactly my feeling !! Why would you put all this money in renovation and then build a new stadium? Nothing basically wrong with this stadium and it has access from all directions. It has a new field house. This is one big expense that we don't need. After they spend all this money, who is going to be able to afford a ticket to attend????

    Get real Western NY, THIS IS CRAZY !!!!!

    • Austin Hood

      It's very simple. He's not going to over pay for the team. Ralph Wilson bought the franchise for $25,000 way back when. It has givin the Wilson family millons of dollars over the years. So, whatever money they make now is pure gravy.

      Golisano is saying he will pay a reasonable price but he's not going to pay an astronomical sum of money for the team which only makes good business sense.

      A football team is not a liquid asset. If he buys the team and it proves to be major headache there are only a handful of people in the USA who can afford to pony up that kind of cash.

      I'm sure that Donald Trump feels the same way. People at those financial levels are veteran bargain hunters even more so than the average person.

      • Phantom17

        Don't get hung up on a "reasonable price." A bidding war that pushed the price up to $3 billion, for example, would turn out to be cheap ... if NFL franchise values continued to skyrocket and he could sell it for $10 billion in 2025. It's not about estimates that the franchise is worth about $1 billion, so it'd be crazy to pay $1.5 billion. Don't forget the REAL financial gain for many of these owners isn't in the annual profit, but in the appreciation in the value of the franchises.

    • UncleBluck

      This stadium never had good access.......

  • Otis

    How do you win an auction if you don't get in a bidding war?

  • Datdude

    He did not say he wouldn't get into a bidding war. That is the whole point of having multiple bidders isn't it? He's saying he wouldn't overpay. There is a difference. He is posturing as a smart business person will. Would you walk into a car dealership and say your desperate for a car and are willing to pay anything? Of course not. This is a non-story.

    • Otis

      A car dealer is not an auction. No one else is bidding on a car against you. Bad analogy. By saying he won't bid high he is inviting more people to go for it. Better to say he is determined to buy the team to scare some people off. Sounds like he's not that serious to me.

      • Jeremy Bentham

        So you are a successful businessman and billionaire with the skill set and experience that allows you to state what another successful businessman and billionaire should say and do regarding a potential acquisition? And based on a newspaper article you can tell whether he's serious or not? Thanks for the laugh.

  • THEBILLS

    Spend till the cows come home. the State,County,city and every Tom,Dick and Harry should give till it hurts to help any billionaire realize his dream. Remember it's for a good cause and a 1-2% raise in county taxes would only help our new owner.

    • El Elegante

      1-2 percent. Big lousy deal. If they left, and everyone was even more miserable than they are now, would you look in hindsight and say that if we all chipped in that tiny bit, they still could be here with a beautiful new scandium...c'mon. You non-football fans are cheapskates and most are liberals in this town, now socialism is it not so attractive because either you dont like football or loath making an already rich guy a tiny bit richer. How funny.

  • Dwight Billingsly

    you would think the $130 million in improvements would be put on hold but they bind the team to the stadium for six years. stadiums are just as valuable to the community as libraries, zoos, museums and other public facilities but it's up to the communities to decide how much. remember when you're thinking about making a rich man richer: every dollar of public infrastructure spending does that: construction companies, contractors, project managers and architects and so on and on are not exactly poverty cases. once you lose your nfl team, buffalo, it's gone. there will be no expansion to buffalo.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.