Current Sabres owners announce sale to Terry Pegula
BUFFALO, NY - The three current owners of the Buffalo Sabres took the podium Thursday at Noon, making the official announcement that the team and all of its assets is being sold to Pennsylvania billionaire Terry Pegula.
Tom Golisano, Larry Quinn and Dan DiPofi met with the media. Terry Pegula was not in attendance. But it was stated that Pegula will be attending Friday's Sabres game in Pittsburgh.
"The Buffalo Sabres are being sold by this group of individuals, the three of us to a gentleman by the name of Terry Pegula. The very important thing to the city of Buffalo is that by contract Terry Pegula will be unable to ever move the team from the City of Buffalo."
Majority owner Golisano said he actually turned down an offer for the Sabres that was $70 million more than Pegula's offer, because it would have involved moving the team from Buffalo.
"We did receiver an offer from another individual and I'll give you the exact amount, that was 70 million dollars more than this transaction if we were willing to cooperate in moving the team to another city and we absolutely turned that down."
Golisano would not say which hopeful owner made the offer, or where they wanted to move the team.
The deal for the team is expected to be closed within the next 30 days. Golisano says that the NHL Board of Governors needs to approve the deal, which he expects to be a "slam dunk".
After that, the federal government needs to approve the transaction because of the amount of money involved. Golisano said the group needs to pay the Justice Department $100,000 to make sure the transaction doesn't create a monopoly. "Something the NHL process already does" according to Golisano; who made a strong political statement within the first few minutes of the conference.
Golisano said he was contacted by the Pennsylvania billionaire last year about selling the team, but after about a month of talks, turned down his offer. A few months later the owners approached Pegula again to see if he was still interested in the purchase.
Golisano went on to say a national project that he is involved in, that will be unveiled in 15 days, will be taking up more of his time. He describes the project as "governmental, not political". He also went on to say that he is becoming more involved in business dealings in Florida, spending more time in the south.
"Disinterest was not a factor in this sale at all," Golisano said, stating that he only missed about six games over his tenure on owner, watching either in person or on TV.
Channel 2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore asked about the role Pegula would have in the decision making for the team as they move forward in the sale. Minority owner Larry Quinn said Pegula has given them a list of players to keep, and they are keeping an eye on the spending that Pegula would ultimately be responsible for. But Quinn says in the meantime, the current owners will be making the majority of the decisions.
Another issue brought up is the criticism that the owners didn't spend enough on players for the team. Golisano contends that they spent just 10% lower than salary caps would allow. All three owners say they are proud of the work they have done with the team.
Golisano pointed out that season ticket sales have nearly doubled in their time as owners. He also highlighted the idea of the inaugural Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and the IIHF World Junior's as part of the team's ingenuity.
Golisano says he still has plenty of business interests in Western New York, especially the Rochester area. He also points out that he has family that still lives upstate. He said owning the Sabres was a good experience and that other opportunities to own a pro-sports franchise is "within the realm of possibilities."
Channel 2's Adam Benigni asked about the possibility of buying the Buffalo Bills if the team were ever up for sale.
"Would I be interested in the Bills? I think the key issue would be the level of concern I would have about them leaving the community and the higher the concern, the more interest I probably would have."
Minority owner Larry Quinn said that leaving the team the second time around was a much better feeling. Quinn also says he's leaving his position with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, as the group continues to work on the Canalside project. Quinn says he has told Pegula about the movement to develop the waterfront, but he doesn't know how involved the new owner will become in the project.
Golisano had these words of advice for the new owner: "get a thick skin."
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