When Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to respond to a Toronto Sun report about the Buffalo Bills' future, he also gave an update about the Bills' sale process.
Poloncarz isn't directly involved in the sale -- that's the domain of Ralph Wilson's estate -- but since the sale of the team and the Bills' stadium lease are closely tied, Poloncarz has been contacted by prospective bidders.
"I've talked to potential owners. I've talked to counsel for potential owners," Poloncarz told WGR 550. "My general response to them is, 'I'm very interested in you being a potential owner of the team, as long as you're going to keep the team in Buffalo. If you want to move a team, then go fly a kite.'"
Now over a month after Wilson's death, the Bills are in the process of valuing the team for a sale.
"What's going on right now, is the investment bank -- if it has not been retained yet by the Bills -- which investment bank they choose will be doing the valuation of the determination of the value of the team on the date of Mr. Wilson's death for tax purposes," Poloncarz said. "They'll be looking at prospective owners, doing research on them. It's going to take some time."
Poloncarz expects the sale to be completed by next spring.
"Theoretically it could be done by the end of the year. I think basically the beginning of next year is a better timeline," he said. "But by this time next year, I fully expect a new owner to be in place and we'll be having discussions with that new owner about not just [the remaining years] in this current lease but a more substantial, longer lease thereafter."
It's a complicated process that, even after the financial work is done, will require a three-quarters vote of NFL owners.
"I want people to think about this: When you put a bid in on a house and you sign a contract to purchase a house, it still takes a number of months for you to close the house sale," Poloncarz said. "Think about how long it takes to close the sale of a business that's worth potentially a billion dollars. All of that has to be done. It's going to take some time. So I think people just need to relax, realize that there are people who are watching out for their best interests, to keep the team in town."
Poloncarz says there are parties -- both locally and from outside the area -- that are interested in keeping the team in Buffalo.
"There's a lot of interest, of course, in this team. There's interest from people who want to purchase the team and keep it in Buffalo. It's not as if there's no one there, there's no white knight that wants to purchase the team and keep it in Buffalo. There's a number of parties that do," he explained. "I can tell you, there are people who want to purchase this team from outside this area who really don't have a connection with the Buffalo area but understand the value that the Buffalo Bills bring. And they've told me at least, personally, they're committed to keeping this team here, not only during the life of this current lease, but thereafter, because they understand the value that that team brings."