BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano has entered the running to purchase the Buffalo Bills.
A person familiar with the sale process confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that Golisano submitted a non-binding bid to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the sale. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the sale is private.
The Buffalo News first reported Golisano’s entry earlier in the day.
The Bills are on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.
Golisano’s addition comes at the same time the sale process moved into the next phase after Bills officials began meeting with prospective ownership groups that had already submitted their non-binding bids.
Two other people familiar with the process said New York real estate mogul Donald Trump was first up, by attending a lengthy presentation in the Detroit-area on Wednesday.
Current Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, and a Toronto-based group fronted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi are also scheduled to attend presentations.
The presentations provide prospective buyers an opportunity to receive extensive financial and background information on the franchise in order to prepare their formal bids, which are expected to be submitted within three weeks.
A prospective owner is expected to be identified by the end of next month, and then presented to NFL owners for approval at league meetings in New York in early October.
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and his brother Dan Kelly, who runs the family’s business interests, have also been invited to a presentation. Though the Kellys have expressed interest in purchasing the team, it’s unclear if they have submitted a bid or have linked up with another ownership group.
Golisano had first indicated an interest in purchasing the Bills in May. Though Golisano now lives in Florida, he is from western New York, and made his fortune establishing the Rochester-based payroll firm, Paychex.
He purchased the Sabres out of bankruptcy in 2003, before selling the team to Pegula in 2011.
Golisano’s net worth was most recently valued by Forbes to be $1.9 billion.
Though prospective buyers had until July 29 to submit their non-binding bids, Morgan Stanley extended the deadline to allow for other groups to enter the running.
The Pegulas and Trump are considered the front-runners. Both have the assets to complete what is expected to be a $1 billion-plus purchase, and they also have expressed a commitment to keep the Bills in western New York.