Tom Golisano interested in buying Bills

Buffalo Bills FlagBillionaire philanthropist Tom Golisano confirmed Thursday that he has at least some interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, and said if he does, he will keep the team in Buffalo, calling it a “very important asset” for western New York.

Golisano was at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, N.Y. on Thursday to receive an honor for his support of the school. He briefly addressed the Bills during his own prepared remarks, then took several questions on the topic from students.

Reports surfaced last month that Golisano is considering joining with mall developer Scott Congel to buy the team, which is in limbo since the death of founder and longtime owner Ralph Wilson Jr.

It was evident from his answers that he’s been involved in the behind-the-scenes process with the National Football League and the group currently in charge of the team. He said he’s waiting for financial information on the team to be released in a few weeks before making any decisions.

“The important thing is someone buys (the team) and keeps it in western New York,” he 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.”

He criticized the team and its partners for undertaking the current $130 million stadium renovation when a new stadium might be necessary in the near future.

“It doesn’t sound like they did a lot of planning,” he said. “Why go through all that renovation and $130 million when you’re going to build a new stadium anyway?”

Golisano also alluded to governmental support for a roof on the new stadium, if and when it is built.

“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.”

He said some of the price tags for recent pro-sports franchises, including a reported $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers, “seem absurd” and are beyond what he’d be willing to pay.

“Everybody has a degree of reasonableness,” he said. “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. … If they get moved out of western New York, I’m not going to feel very good about it. I might even feel partially responsible. Not totally, but partially responsible.”