Buffalo’s two major pro sports teams are both undergoing major changes at crucial moments for their organizations.
Terry Pegula, owner of both the NFL’s Bills and NHL’s Sabres, has dissolved Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the parent organization that previously oversaw both franchises. Pegula also appointed himself as Sabres president, a title he also holds for the Bills.
The teams will now operate as separate entities for the first time since Pegula purchased the Bills in 2014.
The restructuring follows a series of prior senior-level leadership changes. Pegula’s wife, Kim, has been unable to continue in her prior role as PSE president and CEO following a cardiac arrest last year, and last month, Terry Pegula fired Ron Raccuia, who previously oversaw both franchises.
Sabres COO John Roth will aid Pegula and lead business operations for both teams, but they will otherwise have separate staffs and day-to-day operations.
In less than two weeks, the Bills begin the 2023 NFL season, once again as Super Bowl contenders. The team is also in the midst of building a new stadium in Orchard Park, New York, though with rising cost estimates to at least $1.7 billion.
The Sabres are in the initial stages of planning a large-scale upgrade to their home arena, KeyBank Center. The 27-year-old, publicly owned venue in downtown Buffalo hasn’t undergone any major renovations since opening and will require several years to complete them during Sabres offseasons.
While the dissolution of PSE has heightened local speculation of a potential Sabres franchise sale, most of that arena work will be privately funded by Pegula.
The team is also trying to break an active, 12-year postseason drought, the longest in NHL history — and currently tied for the longest in all of U.S. major pro team sports.