Video: Trump to buy the Buffalo Bills?

posted at 7:21 pm on April 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After the death of original Buffalo Bills owner and legendary AFL co-founder Ralph Wilson, speculation has percolated about the status of the team and its location. Finding an owner committed to staying in northern New York might be difficult when options like Los Angeles or even neighboring Toronto tantalizingly dangle to potential owners. However, a white-knight offer may come from an unlikely hero:

New York City businessman and billionaire Donald Trump says he is committed to buying the Bills and keeping them in western New York, according to The Buffalo News.

“I’m going to give it a heavy shot,” Trump told the News on Monday from his office in Manhattan. “I would love to do it, and if I can do it, I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”

Multiple sources confirmed to the News that Trump has had two conversations with Bills president and CEO Russ Brandon.

Trump, who earlier this month confirmed that he was contacted by a group looking to purchase the Bills following the death of longtime owner Ralph Wilson, also wanted to ease concerns that he would move the team to Los Angeles or Toronto.

He has previously said it would be “catastrophic” if Buffalo lost the Bills.

“I live in New York, and it’s easier for me to go to Buffalo than any other place,” Trump said. “Where am I going to move it, some place on the other side of the country where I have to travel for five hours?”

There are two obvious issues that might come into play with a Trump bid. First, Trump once had heavy investment in gaming interests, which would be a non-negotiable issue with the NFL, for obvious reasons. Trump told the Buffalo News that his company has only a residual interest in gaming and could dump it at any time:

The NFL prohibits all personnel – from owners all the way down to the assistant equipment manager – to have any involvement with gambling operations. Trump’s name is on two Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza, but he said he owns only a small stake in those properties anymore.

“It’s a public company, and I could sell instantaneously,” Trump said. “So that wouldn’t be a conflict at all.

“I did very well with Atlantic City. It was a great experience. When we sold the casinos, they didn’t change the name. But I’m not involved, not on the board.”

The other issue might be more personal. Trump took on the NFL in the 1980s as one of the owners in the long-defunct USFL, one of the cadre of failed NFL competitors over the post-merger period. He was the driving force in pushing the USFL to directly compete with the NFL as a fall league, rather than the spring league first launched, although the league disbanded before they played a fall season. More to the point, Trump also pushed the 1984 anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL that ended up netting $3 in damages to the USFL … years after they folded.

Trump’s probably correct, though, in stating that the current ownership won’t hold that much of a grudge, especially if he can settle the ownership situation decisively. They want owners with deep pockets and stability in the region, and whatever else one thinks about Trump, he can at least offer that much. The Buffalo News notes that Forbes estimates Trump’s wealth at nearly $4 billion — although Trump estimates that it’s three times that amount. If so, he could buy the team outright, although like most bidders he would likely find other investors to share the risk and reward.

This sounds like a good fit — certainly a better fit for Trump than national politics. He has excelled in the business and entertainment worlds, and could give the NFL a few lessons in showmanship and promotion. Perhaps Trump critics can root for this outcome on the basis that it would likely reduce his profile in electoral politics … or so we can hope.


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Wow, that would be awesome…

OmahaConservative on April 16, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Will never happen — Trump is a racist for having criticized The Won; and, if most people don’t believe that now, just wait ’til the LSM gets done with him …

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Finding an owner committed to staying in northern New York might be difficult when options like Los Angeles or even neighboring Toronto tantalizingly dangle to potential owners.

I don’t get the NFL’s fascination with LA. Many of the people who live in LA came from other parts of the country and root for their hometown teams. A new stadium has to be built and the costs in LA for both the land and the construction would be enormous. The Rams and Raiders both played there (the Rams were there for over 40 years) and yet both struggled with attendance and ultimately found greener pastures elsewhere.

Bitter Clinger on April 16, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Will never happen — Trump is a racist for having criticized The Won; and, if most people don’t believe that now, just wait ’til the LSM gets done with him …

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Imagine if Trump decided to bring Rush in as a minority investor. The Left’s head would explode and the Bills would become many conservatives’ 2nd favorite team.

Bitter Clinger on April 16, 2014 at 7:38 PM

The Bills new logo- $

Flange on April 16, 2014 at 7:39 PM

davidk on April 16, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Try to stay on topic, huh?

JetBoy on April 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

I know there are real criticisms and those criticisms are not what I’m talking about today, I’m just bringing up a couple positive points on Trump. For instance, I like the way Trump stood up and took the politically incorrect stand against Obama and his birth certificate, even if he did appear to lose some face at the end when Obama appeared to capitulate. Also Trump is solid against amnesty I hear, and on climate change he doesn’t walk with the leftists like Bush and Christie, and I like the way he exposes the liberals desire to give the third world and our enemies a free ride while they attack our own country, and call for the retrenchment of our industries, and this is especially relevant now with Ukraine showing us the world is getting more dangerous and we don’t want to purposely shoot ourselves in the foot and give the lead to our possible enemies like China and Russia:

Trump on climate change:

“Gore wants us to clean up our factories and plants in order to protect us from global warming, when China and other countries couldn’t care less. It would make us totally non-competitive in the manufacturing world, and China, Japan and India are laughing at America’s stupidity.” -Donald Trump

“Obama’s speech on climate change was scary. It will lower our standard of living and raise costs of fuel & food for everyone.”

“Surprise? 1970’s global cooling alarmists were pushing the same no-growth liberal agenda as today’s global warming.”

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

anotherJoe on April 16, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Try to stay on topic, huh?

JetBoy on April 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Didn’t know you were promoted to mod. I like david’s links…

OmahaConservative on April 16, 2014 at 7:49 PM

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM

EPSN has already done that.

ESPN’s Gonzalo Le Batard said, “Should [Fidel] Goodell let Donald Trump buy the Bills?”

JONES: “This is the last man you want anywhere near this league. And if this is a league that said that Rush Limbaugh having part ownership basically meant that he couldn’t own a team, there’s no way in the world you talk about having Donald Trump there. Sure, have Donald Trump get up there and say racist things on Twitter about the president of the United States if you’re Roger Goodell where you don’t even let dudes have touchdown dances. There’s no good idea about letting him be there! Why? He would be Steinbrenner-esque except for one thing: Steinbrenner, overall, good for the game of baseball. Donald Trump, totally in it for self, would mess it up for anybody else. And there are still owners who are old enough to remember that dude from the USFL.”

rightside on April 16, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Would have have to sell his casinos to own an NFL team?

I didn’t think he could be involved with Gambling & a team owner at the same time.

portlandon on April 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

portlandon on April 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

That’s answered in the post.

Ed Morrissey on April 16, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Would have have to sell his casinos to own an NFL team?

I didn’t think he could be involved with Gambling & a team owner at the same time.

portlandon on April 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM

I would think only sports booking would be conflicting.

JetBoy on April 16, 2014 at 8:04 PM

actually a pretty good match.

IR-MN on April 16, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Will never happen — Trump is a racist for having criticized The Won; and, if most people don’t believe that now, just wait ’til the LSM gets done with him …

ShainS on April 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Already happening. Rush talked about it today on his show.

theotherone on April 16, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Also Trump is solid against amnesty

Wow, it just hit me, Trump is a big business guy, like the ones that are usually called our for selling our country down the river with cheap labor and amnesty. So he does NOT follow the big business, establishment line on amnesty!! Indeed, this article: Trump Attacks Rubio For Supporting ‘Amnesty’ In Front Of Entire CPAC Audience, makes that clear.

anotherJoe on April 16, 2014 at 8:35 PM

not to quibble too much, the Bills are located in Western New York. Northern New York is Watertown.

THCARR on April 16, 2014 at 8:37 PM

not to quibble too much, the Bills are located in Western New York. Northern New York is Watertown.

THCARR on April 16, 2014 at 8:37 PM

I think Ed was just considering anything north of, say, Yonkers to be “northern” New York, LOL.

Bitter Clinger on April 16, 2014 at 8:45 PM

The fans of the Bills have suffered enough humilities. They don’t deserve this.

Hal_10000 on April 16, 2014 at 9:17 PM

not to quibble too much, the Bills are located in Western New York. Northern New York is Watertown.

THCARR on April 16, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Indeed.

Hey Ed, I live in the Buffalo area, and have many times driven past Rich Stadium. I can tell you with certainty, this is WESTERN NEW YORK.

Land of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. The western terminus of the Erie Canal and the county of Erie that it was named after. Land of the Chicken Wing (that the rest of you rubes call “Buffalo Wings”) and the Beef on Weck. One of the few places in the world where you can go sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter all within less than an hour’s drive from home.

While we love our Northern NY cousins, and think the Watertown and upper Catskills area is beautiful, but we live in Western New York, not Northern New York.

Please get it right.

wearyman on April 16, 2014 at 11:41 PM

…oh good!…another Jerry Jones…and Mark Cuban…for entertainment!/

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Trump would be there for one season, then demand Buffalo build him a new stadium at least as lavish as the Jerrydome and has expensive as it or Met Life Stadium down at the Meadowlands. Then he’d play Buffalo off against Los Angeles, San Antonio-Austin, Toronto, London or any other metro area he could entice into a bidding war for the Bills.

The Donald is all about maximizing profit and The Donald’s name to the rest of the world. Can’t do either in Buffalo, N.Y. He buys the team and they’re gone no later than 2018.

jon1979 on April 17, 2014 at 12:07 AM

Just last night I watched an ESPN 30 for 30 presentation on the rise and fall of the USFL. In it, the league was growing, playing spring football and then Donald Trump bought the NJ (Generals?) franchise. Within a couple years, he pushed the league to shift its games to the fall (in direct competition with the NFL). They then came up with an anti-monopoly lawsuit against the NFL, and won! But the jury only awarded them $1 in damages. That was the end of the league. The conclusions of the presentation was that Trump wanted to force the two leagues to merge, with him owning an NFL franchise.

I tend to believe it. Keep this man as far away from the league as possible.

Mitoch55 on April 17, 2014 at 12:27 AM

While we love our Northern NY cousins, and think the Watertown and upper Catskills area is beautiful, but we live in Western New York, not Northern New York.

Please get it right.

wearyman on April 16, 2014 at 11:41 PM

Catskills aren’t in Northern NY either. The mountains of Northern NY are the Adirondacks. The Catskills are in southeastern NY.

At least nobody said Buffalo was in “Upstate” NY. As a Buffalo native that always made me cringe.

Pervygrin on April 17, 2014 at 12:57 AM

Anything above New York City I call upstate. You’d be surprised to see how many people think New York is just the city.

Mitoch55 on April 17, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Trump would be there for one season, then demand Buffalo build him a new stadium at least as lavish as the Jerrydome and has expensive as it or Met Life Stadium down at the Meadowlands. Then he’d play Buffalo off against Los Angeles, San Antonio-Austin, Toronto, London or any other metro area he could entice into a bidding war for the Bills.

The Donald is all about maximizing profit and The Donald’s name to the rest of the world. Can’t do either in Buffalo, N.Y. He buys the team and they’re gone no later than 2018.

jon1979 on April 17, 2014 at 12:07 AM

You are spot on, jon. As a life-long Bills fan and former Western New Yorker, I sincerely hope that Tom Golisano buys the team with a cadre of former Bills players. They are the only ones who will keep the ONLY NEW YORK STATE NFL TEAM in Buffalo! (I’ve also read that Jon Bon Jovi, at the bidding of his smarmy pal Bob Kraft, couldn’t wait for Ralph Wilson to die so he could buy the Bills. Yech!)

Logic on April 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM

As some of you might have forgotten, the NFL owners have to vote you in. There is no way they’re voting Trump in. He’d be a massive pain in the butt for the entire league, as many have already given examples above.

I don’t mind Mark Cuban, but it seems like no other league wants him, after his NBA antics. And Cuban is small stuff compared to Trump and his massive ego.

asc85 on April 17, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Before anyone gets too excited about this, remember what Sir Donald did to the USFL after he bought the NJ Generals. Now he says it was ‘small potatoes’.

Sorry, Buffalo, I think your team is gone, whatever happens.

jclittlep on April 17, 2014 at 12:43 PM