Who owns who? Zoom on NHL owners and their portfolios: Buffalo Sabres

Head coach Don Granato of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Head coach Don Granato of the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

In the NHL Owners and their Portfolios series, I will write about the owners of individual NHL clubs and their sports portfolios. Several owners are not limited to having just one sports team but want to own a wide range of clubs. Therefore, it will enrich you, and you may find out that your favorite NHL team has the same owner as the arch-rival of your favorite EPL team. Today, we will look at the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo Sabres, established in 1970, current value: $610 M, the 30th most valuable organization in the NHL. The value of Buffalo is 22% higher than the previous year ($500 M), but despite this, the Sabres fell from 29th to 30th place.

Who owns who? Zoom on NHL owners and their portfolios: Buffalo Sabres

Owner: Pegula Sports and Entertainment; Hockey Western New York, LLC

Owners Net Worth: $8.48 B

Purchased: 2011

Purchased for: $189,000,000

Pegula Sports and Entertainment; Hockey Western New York, LLC was founded by Terry and Kim Pegula in 2011. Terry’s net worth is estimated at $8.38 B, while Kim owns the remaining $100 million.

The Pegulas’ story is literally like a movie. Terry worked in an oil company before starting his own from his savings and friends’ loans. His business was profitable over the years, and he sold some of his land in Pennsylvania, New York, Rocky Mountain, Ohio, and West Virginia for approximately $6.5 billion.

His wife Kim was born in South Korea. At age five, she was found abandoned on the street without knowing about her parents. She was subsequently transported to the United States, where she was adopted. The adoption was considered a Christmas miracle for her new family. When she was 22, she applied for a waitress job just as Terry was dining there. He offered her a job at his oil company, which she accepted. The couple married two years later.

In 2011, Pegula bought Hockey Western New York, LLC, the company that owned the Sabres, and the lacrosse team playing in the NLL, Buffalo Bandits, for $189 million. In May 2011, he decided to reunite the Sabres with the farm team Rochester Americans, who had previously played three years in Florida.

Initially, the purchase seemed complicated because the Sabres needed permission from their then-farm team, the Portland Pirates, with whom they had a contract until 2014. The agreement contained a clause that the contract could not be terminated. In addition, the Americans had to be conceptually separated from their sister NLL team, the Rochester Knighthawks, as the rules at the time did not allow owning two clubs in one league. Both sides completed the deal in June, and Pegula paid $5 million to purchase the Americans.

After the founder of the NFL participant team Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson, died, Pegula was also interested in this team. His offer of $1.4 billion surpassed offers from Donald Trump or musician Jon Bon Jovi, and the Pegulas added a new team to their portfolio. At the end of 2017, they purchased the NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) team Buffalo Beauts, which became the first team not owned by the league. At the beginning of 2019, NWHL players went on strike, and Pegula returned the team to the league’s hands.

The latest acquisition by the Pegulas is the Rochester Knighthawks team. The former owner, Curt Styres, moved the entire franchise to Halifax (they became the Halifax Thunderbirds) and sold the Knighthawks to the Pegulas as intellectual property. Expansion in 2019 allowed the Rochester team to continue, but the only thing that remained unchanged was the name. The team had new club colors, logo, and roster.

The Pegulas now not only own two teams in the National Lacrosse League, but they own teams just 75 km apart and teams that arguably have the biggest rivalry in the entire NLL.

The Pegulas also own the Bills’ (Highmark Stadium), Sabres’ and Bandits’ (KeyBank Center), and Americans’ and Knighthawks’ (Blue Cross Arena) home stadiums.

Finally, Sabres fans are running out of patience. In 2011, the Pegulas promised the Stanley Cup, but Buffalo has been experiencing playoff droughts in recent seasons. And if you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name Pegula before, it’s probably because of tennis player Jessica Pegula. Currently ranked third in the WTA rankings, she is the daughter of Terry and Kim.