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Joint Golisano-Congel bid for Bills is off, sources say

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Preliminary conversations between Syracuse developer Scott Congel and B. Thomas Golisano over a potential partnership to buy the Buffalo Bills are dead, according to two sources plugged into developments regarding the ownership of the team.

Golisano still wants to bid on the team, but by himself, the sources told The News. One of the sources, who is also familiar with the discussions, said Congel might pursue the team on his own.

In May, The News reported that Congel, a succesful shopping mall developer, was considering working with billionaire Golisano to purchase the Buffalo Bills in conjunction with a $700 million development of a long-dormant West Seneca plaza. Sources familiar with the situation at the time said that development could include a new stadium for the team on nearby land.

One of the sources also said that if Golisano buys the Bills, then he still would have interest in the West Seneca site and would not rule out selling a minority stake in the team to Congel.

Congel, whose family has long run the Pyramid Cos. that built and manages the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga, declined to comment in May when asked if he sought to buy part of the team, as did Golisano.

While the sources indicated that Congel and Golisano are no longer pursuing a possible partnership to buy the Bills, Congel appears to be moving forward with a plan to develop the former Seneca Mall site in West Seneca, according to town officials.

West Seneca Town Councilman Eugene P. Hart said Congel and his team met individually with town officials in late June to present his latest plan for the vacant mall site and has told them he would return with a revised proposal. The vacant land is located near Ridge Road and the Thruway.

Town Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan said Saturday that Congel is still in discussions with town officials over developing the former Seneca mall site. Whether or not he has interest in buying the Bills, she said, has no bearing on that project.

Congel’s proposal unveiled in May for the mall site included a massive development with hotels, housing, a theater and parking.

“The conversations have been extremely positive,” Meegan said of Congel’s meetings with the town over the Seneca mall site.

During the June meetings, Congel showed off the latest revisions to his proposal for the vacant mall site, as well as conceptual designs for a stadium that could be built nearby, Hart said. Hart called the proposal for a stadium in West Seneca a “pretty remote possibility.”

News Staff Reporter Denise Jewell Gee contributed to this report. email: tgraham@buffnews.com

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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.