AP sources: Trump first up in meeting with Bills

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AP sources: Trump first up in meeting with Bills
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump attend the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C Groundbreaking Ceremony at Old Post Office on July 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump attend the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C Groundbreaking Ceremony at Old Post Office on July 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 30: Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, speaks during day two of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Members of the Republican Party are scheduled to speak at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31st. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Donald Trump attends the Spring Swing at Golf & Body hosted by Golf Digest on May 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Golf Digest)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE - Donald Trump and John Catsimatidis, board members of the Police Athletic League NYC, help announce that the "Central Park Horse Show Presented by Rolex" will come to Central Park's Trump Rink from September 18- 21, 2014 during a press conference at Tavern on The Green, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in New York. The Central Park Horse Show will benefit the NYC Police Foundation / NYPD Mounted Unit, Police Athletic League NYC and Gallop NYC and fifty percent of the matinee tickets will be donated to local children's groups in order to broaden the exposure of the equestrian sport. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Chronicle of the Horse/AP Images)
Donald Trump, center, poses for photographs during a ground breaking ceremony for the Trump International Hotel on the site of the Old Post Office, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Washington. From left, Ivanka Trump, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, Trump, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Muriel Bowser, the Democratic nominee for D.C. mayor. (AP Photo)
Donald Trump addresses the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, La., Friday, May 30, 2014. Midterm election campaigns are in full swing, but several thousand Republicans gathering in Louisiana look toward a bigger prize. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization, speaks at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, Tuesday, May 27, 2014, about "Building the Trump Brand," (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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By JOHN WAWROW

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The sale of the Buffalo Bills entered the next phase with prospective ownership groups, including Donald Trump, meeting with team officials to prepare formal bids.

Two people familiar with the sale process confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that the New York real estate mogul was the first to receive a presentation. Trump's meeting was held in the Detroit-area on Wednesday. Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and a Toronto group fronted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi also have scheduled meetings.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the sale process is private. The Bills are on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.

The Buffalo News first reported the development on its website.

During the meetings, prospective buyers receive extensive financial and background information on the franchise. Bids are expected to be submitted within three weeks.

A prospective owner is expected to be identified by the end of next month, and then presented to NFL owners for approval at league meetings in New York in early October.

Bills president Russ Brandon is involved in making the presentations on behalf of Morgan Stanley, the banking firm hired by Wilson's estate to oversee the sale.

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and his brother Dan Kelly, who runs the family's business interests, are also involved in the meetings. Though the Kellys have expressed interest in purchasing the team, it's unclear if they have submitted a bid.

The Pegulas and Trump are considered the front-runners. Both have the assets to complete what is expected to be a $1 billion-plus purchase, and they also have expressed a commitment to keep the Bills in western New York.

Terry Pegula was last valued by Forbes to have a net worth of $3.3 billion. That was before Pegula closed a $1.75 billion deal on Tuesday to sell about 75,000 acres of drilling rights to American Energy Partners.

Trump was last valued with a net worth of $3.9 billion. That does not include his holdings in numerous properties, including several high-profile golf resorts he recently purchased.

The Bon Jovi-fronted group is made up of Toronto-based partners, Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and the Rogers family, which controls Rogers Communications.

However, it's unclear whether Bon Jovi has the liquid assets to buy the Bills if the sale price goes above $1.2 billion. Under NFL rules, a principal owner must have enough cash and use no more than $200 million in debt-financing to hold a minimum 30 percent ownership stake.

Forbes most recently valued Bon Jovi's net worth at $290 million.

Bon Jovi also faces questions about his long-term intentions to keep the team in the Buffalo area, which is a prerequisite in the sale process.

Last weekend, Bon Jovi had a letter published in The Buffalo News stating that his objective was "to carry on the legacy of Ralph Wilson and make the Bills successful in Buffalo."

He didn't state in the seven-paragraph letter that he was committed to keeping the franchise in Buffalo. The letter was received with some skepticism in Buffalo and among Bills fans.

The commitment Bon Jovi provided was working with state and local officials to identify a site for a potential new stadium.

Under the current lease, reached in December 2012, the Bills would incur a $400 million penalty for broaching the prospect of moving during the 10-year agreement. There is a one-time exception that would allow the Bills to break the agreement for just under $28.4 million in 2020.

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