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Backers of outer harbor stadium talking to potential Bills owners

A group that wants to build a $1.5 billion stadium and entertainment complex at the outer harbor says it has been in contact with some bidders for the Buffalo Bills and says those parties show interest in keeping the team here.

George Hasiotis, a partner with Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex LLC, declined to identify the bidders, describing those contacts as confidential. But he said the group has connected with potential franchise bidders as well as other parties more interested in just the proposed complex.

“All these potential bidders, I sincerely believe, realize the value of keeping the franchise here,” he said. “It’s a matter of adjusting the business model and tying it to a compatible kind of facility that works to generate that kind of profitability and revenue.”

While speculation continues over who will buy the Bills, the issues of whether the team will ultimately need a new stadium, and where such as stadium would be located are also part of the conversation.

The Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex LLC has proposed an outer harbor complex that would consist of a 72,000-seat retractable-roof stadium, convention center, sports museum and retail space. Its business model calls for $1 billion in private financing.

Hasiotis said some of the parties see the value of a multipurpose complex that would generate revenues from a variety of sources year-round – such as soccer games or college basketball tournaments, for example – rather than relying solely on football games.

“They’ve asked themselves, ‘How do we keep the facility in Buffalo and transform it into something which gives us all these other revenue sources and that kind of economic potential?’ ” Hasiotis said.

The message from the other National Football League owners and commissioner these days, he said, is that the team’s “next facility has to be the best facility, has to be better than the last facility, and it has to be Super Bowl-grade.”

While the Common Council has provided some encouragement for the group’s outer harbor plans, other influential leaders, such as Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, have shown no interest in placing a stadium there.