BUFFALO, N.Y. - A new buyer for the Buffalo Bills could be in place by this fall, but more likely by early 2015.
A team source tells 2 On Your Side Sports Director Adam Benigni that approval for a new owner by the October NFL League meetings is possible, but would require "aggressive" work in a complicated process.
Tim Graham of The Buffalo News first talked about the October timetable in a tweet.
The source also told Benigni ownership groups will need to be vetted by an investment banking firm, which will then present their analysis to the NFL and the Bills. That process could take time. Benigni reports the March 2015 NFL Meetings are a working target for a necessary approval vote where 75% of league owners would need to approve the sale.
Meanwhile, a nationally known sports business consultant, Marc Ganis, calls the one year timetable for the sale of the team "reasonable."
Ganis says the NFL prefers to approve the sale of a team in the off-season, that way a new owner starts with a clean slate when it comes to free agency and other matters.
Ganis expects Ralph Wilson's longtime top financial adviser, Jeff Littman, to play a key role in the sale of the team, and that Littman will involve the NFL throughout the entire process.
Marc Ganis: "I would not anticipate that whatever name gets forwarded (to the league), and whatever deal structure gets forwarded to the NFL for approval would be a surprise to the league. Jeff has been around long enough to know that is by far the best way to go about it."
In terms of an ideal profile for a new owner, typically the NFL likes someone wealthy enough to buy a team with very few, if any, partners, and someone who doesn't have to borrow money to complete a sale.
Locally, there are four men who fit that profile- Sabres owner Terry Pegula, Bisons owner Bob Rich, the head of Delaware North, Jeremy Jacobs, and former Sabres owner Tom Golisano.
Ganis adds that if the county and state address the stadium issue to the NFL's satisfaction, it won't matter if the next owner is from out of town, the league would not permit the team to be moved.
On Thursday, the team announced that Mary Wilson, widow of late team owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., is now controlling owner of the Bills. Ralph Wilson passed away last week at his home in Detroit. He was 95-years-old.
In a statement, the team said a process will be established at an appropriate time for the sale of the franchise.