BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald Trump remains in the running to purchase the Buffalo Bills.
Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that the real estate mogul has been chosen to advance to the next round of bidding to purchase the team. Cohen said he was informed of the decision by Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the sale of the team for late owner Ralph Wilson’s estate.
“Mr. Trump’s significant wealth, name recognition and real estate knowledge makes him a viable option,” Cohen said.
Trump is bidding on his own after electing against being joined by partners. He is prepared to make an all-cash offer upon closing.
Trump is proving to be serious in his efforts to buy the Bills, who are on the market after Wilson died in March. Trump was previously dismissed by critics as using the Bills sale as a publicity stunt.
He said earlier this week that he viewed himself as a long shot to ultimately land the team.
“I would say the chances are very, very unlikely, because I’m not going to do something totally stupid,” Trump said on Fox News on Tuesday. “Maybe just a little bit stupid, but not totally stupid.”
His advancement to the next round comes after prospective groups were asked to submit nonbinding bids by Tuesday. It’s unclear which other bidders have been chosen to advance.
NHL Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula submitted a bid and also are expected to advance to the next round. A Toronto group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi was expected to submit a bid, but it’s not clear if the group had.
The deadline Tuesday was regarded as a soft one, meaning other interested parties can still submit bids until a prospective owner is identified. The time, however, is growing shorter for outside groups to become involved.
The next step is for groups who have been approved to advance is to meet with both Morgan Stanley and members of the estate to obtain the franchise’s financial information. Bills President Russ Brandon also is expected to make a presentation to prospective bidders.
Once that is done in the coming weeks, groups will then be asked to submit formal bids. The bidding process is unsealed, meaning Wilson’s estate will have the ability to ask groups to increase their bids.
Though no timetable has been established by Morgan Stanley, a prospective owner could be identified by as early as Labor Day and presented to NFL owners for approval during league meetings in early October.
The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million but are expected to sell for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.
If chosen, it would not be the first pro football team Trump has owned. The real estate mogul and reality TV star owned the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals in the 1980s.
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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)