By JOHN WAWROW
The Associated Press
BUFFALO -- A state-commissioned report that had been anticipated Friday identifying potential sites for a new Buffalo Bills stadium is now expected at the end of the month.
With the NFL team for sale following the death of owner and founder Ralph Wilson in March, New York requested the report amid speculation a new stadium will be important to keeping the franchise from moving out-of-state.
AECOM, a California architectural and design firm, was expected to identify three to four sites across the region and report back July 11, but a person familiar with the Los Angeles firm told The Associated Press that the large volume of information being sorted through has delayed the findings. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and only spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, prospective bidders for the team have gained access to a 60-page document that outlines the franchise's history, stadium background and reasons for the sale -- but no financial information, a person familiar with the sale process said.
The document from Morgan Stanley recently was made available via a secure online website to about 60 prospective bidders, who had been vetted by the investment firm and signed a non-disclosure agreement, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the sale process is not being made public.
The prospective bidders have until July 29 to apply to begin the second step of the bidding process, which is scheduling a meeting with Morgan Stanley to ask questions about the franchise's finances and other topics. The person with knowledge of the AECOM report said the process is consistent with the sale of previous sports franchises.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in recent weeks that while he's not convinced that a new stadium is needed, the state would do its part if one is required by the new owner or league. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he considers it an important step in keeping the franchise in western New York.
Among those interested in buying the Bills are Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula; New York City developer Donald Trump; former Sabres owner Tom Golisano, and a Toronto group that includes Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who is linked to New Jersey singer Jon Bon Jovi.
Though the Bills were last valued by Forbes to be worth $870 million, they are expected to be sold for a much higher price because NFL teams don't often go on the market.