The Buffalo Bills could be sold by the end of the week, perhaps within the next couple days.
Multiple binding bids were submitted today to buy the team. Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, rock star Jon Bon Jovi's group and developer Donald Trump made formal offers, sources told The Buffalo News.
Two knowledgeable sources said there was a belief the winning bid will be higher than the $1 billion the Cleveland Browns sold for in 2012 and could break the NFL record of $1.1 billion set by the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
The Pegulas are considered front-runners by many close to the process and industry analysts because of their net worth, cash on hand and Western New York ties. They are favored by fans and New York politicians.
With sports headlines dominated by video of running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in a casino elevator, Kim Pegula would boost the NFL's image as a minority, female owner who intends to make executive decisions.
But there was a quiet optimism around Bon Jovi's group today that they could pull off an upset and get the Bills, one source told The News, a departure from reports they were dead bidders walking. Bon Jovi's partners include Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Rogers Communications heir Edward Rogers III.
The Pegulas were confident, too.
Sen. Charles Schumer, making a visit to Hamburg, said he spoke to Terry Pegula today.
"We just talked about the lay of the land," Schumer said of his conversation. "I'm not going to get into details. But I believe that he is enthusiastic about both owning and keeping the Bills in Buffalo for generations.
"But of course, for anybody, even with the best of intentions, you've got to make sure it's all locked down."
Though some outlets have reported that former Sabres owner Tom Golisano is out of the bidding, other sources insist he remains interested.
The News could not confirm whether Golisano tendered a bid by today's deadline, but Golisano seemingly has played by his own rules throughout the Bills sales process.