Golisano may be Bills’ best option - The Buffalo News
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Golisano may be Bills’ best option

This is hardly breaking news, but Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano is expected to make a bid when the Bills are placed up for auction in the coming weeks. Golisano made a good buck from owning the Sabres and was interested in buying the Dodgers. For years, he had hinted the Bills were on his radar.

What would it mean if he took over the franchise?

Buffalo fans still scarred by Golisano owning the Sabres may cringe at the thought of him taking over the Bills. The Sabres worked under a strict budget. He didn’t understand hockey. He didn’t care enough about winning. He was an absentee owner. He was only concerned with the bottom line.

Golisano was viewed as a savior after pulling the Sabres out of bankruptcy, but he was actually an investor. He deserved credit for purchasing and stabilizing a troubled franchise. He performed a service to the community. He also walked away with a $110 million profit when he sold to Terry Pegula.

He helped Buffalo, but Buffalo really helped him. Because Buffalo helped make him $110 million richer, it could help him return the favor again. Golisano has said from the beginning that he would keep the franchise in Western New York. He may not be what the Bills need, but he could the best option of the bunch.

Not to worry, Bills fans.

Just because Golisano was all about the money with the Sabres, it doesn’t mean he would operate the Bills in the same fashion. He wasn’t obsessed with making money with the Sabres. He wanted to make sure he didn’t get stuck writing $10 million checks to cover losses.

He’s not going to have the same fears with the Bills, who according to Forbes last month were worth $870 million. In 2002, they were worth $458 million. They made between $30 million and $40 million annually, according to recent estimates, despite being in a small market and repeatedly missing the playoffs.

The NFL is a money machine with all the television revenue and merchandise sales and tax breaks. For decades, it has done a better job than the NHL when it comes to sharing revenue. Smaller market teams such as Green Bay and Buffalo can compete with beasts in Dallas and New York.

Certain NFL teams make more than others, but rarely do any lose money. It’s why there’s a line to purchase them. Anyway, selling NFL teams is easier than NHL teams and usually brings a healthier profit. NFL teams almost always appreciate in value. The Bills are worth 8 percent more than they were a year ago.

Simply, the risk is minimal.

It doesn’t mean that Golisano wouldn’t care about the bottom line. He would, and he should. He would likely want a sweetheart deal on a new stadium, as would any other owner. State and local leaders agree a new building is needed. NFL owners shared a similar message last week.

Is he the right guy for the NFL? I’m not sure, but I am certain he would be different from the one who owned the Sabres.

Age-old questions

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s handling of Clippers owner Donald Sterling could go a long way in building a strong relationship with the players. The next step for Silver is raising the age requirement for NBA rookies, thus eliminating the practice of one-and-done college players.

Under current guidelines, players must be 19 years old to play in the NBA. The idea behind the rule was to limit high school players from jumping directly to the NBA because A) they weren’t ready and B) the league wanted to delay starting the clock on the experience needed to become free agents.

Silver is looking to raise the age to 20 years old, which would keep kids in school for two years. From a basketball standpoint, it would help them develop their games and be more prepared for the NBA. From a business standpoint, it would kick back free agency for another year. He should expect some resistance from the players’ association.

Opponents argued that players who were equipped for the NBA should have access. It’s a valid point. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were all ready for the NBA after high school. Most are not. The players’ association should be concerned with kids stealing jobs from players who deserve them, not free agency.

If Silver was really intent on getting it right, he would push the minimum age to 21 and borrow a rule from Major League Baseball. In baseball, players drafted out of high school can either start their careers right away or play college ball for three years and go back into the draft. It would help the NBA and college hoops.

MLB draft hopefuls

Keep an eye on UB first baseman Tyler Mautner with the Major League Baseball draft scheduled for June 5-7. The redshirt sophomore could be selected in the first 15 rounds after having a terrific year with the Bulls. Scouts are also watching Niagara’s Jordan Schwartz, who pitched well for a struggling team.

Mautner led UB in almost every offensive category. He had a .348 batting average with four homers, 51 RBIs, 17 doubles and 35 walks. Mautner (6-2, 200) turned heads last summer when he was named to Perfect Game’s college All-America team.

Schwartz (6-2, 190) is expected to be taken in the middle rounds after striking out 109 batters in 95 innings for the Purple Eagles. Two others on the radar include Canisius stars Connor Panas, the MAAC Player of the Year, and right-hander Rhon Pierce, the conference Pitcher of the Year.

Panas was batting .356 with 49 RBIs in his 50 games for Canisius, which had the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games. Pierce was 11-2 with a 2.00 ERA, and he had pitched at least six innings in his 14 starts. The 6-3, 210-pound junior from Lockport allowed only 15 extra-base hits and walked only 16 in 103∏ innings.


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, after he was named Executive of the Year by SportsBusiness Journal: “It’s almost an out-of-body experience because at this time of year I’m normally handing out a trophy and getting booed. To receive one and get applause is really quite novel.”

Stats Inc.

111 – Playoff games won by the Spurs in which Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili appeared, breaking the record for three teammates set by Lakers stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper.

121 – Days in which PGA tour member Rory McIlroy and tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki were engaged to be married before calling off the wedding just days after sending out invitations.

27 – Sacks for late linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1988, when he won the Butkus Award as a senior. Thomas had 52 sacks in four seasons but was inexplicably overlooked for the College Football Hall of Fame until this year.

Quick hits

• President Obama missed Marshawn Lynch during a White House ceremony celebrating the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. “I am sorry that Marshawn’s not here because I wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press,” Obama joked. OK, what about Lynch’s approach to the law?

• Don’t be surprised if the Celtics take mystery man Dante Exum sixth overall in the NBA draft. Exum is a 6-foot-6 guard from Australia who has been compared to a young Kobe Bryant. Exum considered playing college ball before his stock soared. He turns 19, the minimum age for foreign players, in July.

• Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was looking to cure Thomas Vanek and create better matchups by throwing him on a line with Daniel Briere for Game Three against the Rangers. Vanek had five postseason goals, but he was scoreless in 10 of 13 games and had not recorded a point in three straight before Thursday.

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