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Majority picks Pegulas for next Bills owner

Rochester Business Journal
August 15, 2014


Terrence Pegula and wife Kim Pegula, who grew up in Fairport, have been selected as the next owners of the Buffalo Bills, the National Football League team announced. (Photo by Bill Wippert/Buffalo Sabres)

As the process to sell the Buffalo Bills moves into its next phase, speculation about bidders for the NFL franchise continues to mount. More than half of RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll respondents say Terry and Kim Pegula are their No. 1 pick for next owner of the Buffalo Bills.

The Pegulas own the Sabres, and Kim Pegula is a native of Fairport. Pegula in 2013 was ranked No. 161 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans with a net worth of $3.1 billion.

Another possible bidder is the Bills’ Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach. Twenty-two percent of readers favor the team being purchased by football great Kelly and bond investor Gundlach.

Just shy of 15 percent of respondents would pick Paychex Inc. founder Thomas Golisano, who reportedly has submitted a non-binding bid, to own the team.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump garnered 5 percent of the vote.

A paltry 2 percent picked rock star Jon Bon Jovi—who is fronting a Toronto group that includes Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and the Rogers family, which controls Rogers Communications—to purchase the team.

Just 1 percent of respondents chose Dean Metropoulos, owner of Pabst Brewing Co., as their pick for new Bills owner.

Much current speculation concerns the prospective buyers’ long-term intentions for the team. Under a 10-year stadium lease signed in 2012, the Bills would face a $400 million penalty if the team moved before 2020. A onetime exception allows the Bills to break the lease for roughly $28 million in 2020.

Some 87 percent of readers said it’s likely that the Bills will remain in Buffalo beyond the current stadium lease.

A new Bills owner is expected to be announced in time for approval by NFL owners at the league’s meeting in early October.

Roughly 810 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Aug. 11 and 12.

Who is your No. 1 pick for next owner of the Buffalo Bills?

Terry and Kim Pegula:  55%
Jim Kelly and Jeffrey Gundlach:  22%
Thomas Golisano:  14%
Donald Trump:  5%
Jon Bon Jovi and his Toronto group:  2%
Dean Metropoulos:  1%
Other:  1%

In your view, how likely is it that the Bills will remain in Buffalo beyond the current stadium lease?
Not very likely:   11%
Very likely:   35%
Not at all likely:   2%
Somewhat likely:  52%

COMMENTS:
If Terry and Kim Pegula or Tom Golisano purchase the Bills, I think they will stay in Buffalo.
—Mark Wahl, Sirness Services Inc.

I would like to see Donald Trump or Tom Golisano as the new owner of the Buffalo Bills, because this needs to be run as a business, and then maybe the team will have a chance at being successful. Right now, they don’t sell out games, their fans can’t watch games, and they have not been a winning team. This team needs to be run like a business and get them back “in the game,” so to speak, and turn these things around.
—Natalie Summers

I want to see the Bills stay in Western New York; just not sure how realistic that is. Game day in Orchard Park is one of the better scenes in the NFL but may not bring in enough revenue. Raise a Labatt Blue and a chicken wing to the Pegulas, Golisano or Kelly/Gundlach in hopes of them getting the team and keeping them in Western New York past 2020.
—Keith Newcomer

The Pegulas have proven to be responsible and caring guardians of Buffalo’s major league hockey entity and are most likely to continue as NFL owners. And be assured, the team is not going anywhere, any time. The league already has too many cities where stadium seats are covered with tarp and ticket prices are out of control. As for Toronto, the Canadian government is ready to reintroduce legislation to protect the competitive and financial interests of the Canadian Football League. Go ahead, look it up.
—Bruno Sniders, Webster

The Pegulas have both local ties and plenty of money to support a small-market team like the Bills.
—John Nufryk

All prospective owners are real possibilities; however, most likely new owners are the Pegula family. They can put the “right” package for all participants and are not in it for the money!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Think Tom Golisano will invest where he needs to keep the Bills in Buffalo and make them a winning team!
—Laurie Sagona, Sundance Marketing LLC

In answer to your two questions, my opinion is clouded by my rooting for the Bills to stay in Western New York. I believe that Bon Jovi and the Toronto group would move to Toronto as soon as possible. Donald Trump can’t be trusted, and his casinos are going belly up. I’m not familiar with Dean Metropoulos, where he’s from and what his interest in the Bills is. I don’t know if Jim Kelly and Jeffrey Gundlach as well as Thomas Golisano could or would pull off the purchase. That leaves Terry and Kim Pegula, who just restructured $1.3 billion in oil and gas drilling rights to be able to buy the Bills and add them to the Buffalo Sabres.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

Although Donald Trump might be arrogant and pompous, he is by far the best choice for owner! He hates to lose! He will do everything to make the Bills No. 1. None of the other owners will be as aggressive in building a winning organization. Trump does not like to come in second, let alone last. He is also a true New Yorker and would never move the team.
—David Wolf, Just Solutions

I doubt whoever bought the Bills for more than $1 billion would pay an additional $400 million to relocate the team before 2020. For the short term (next six years), the Bills will be staying put. If they did move, they would need a new stadium in whatever city they go to, and that would be at least $500 million (on the owner). Almost $2 billion for a franchise that is worth $800 million? Doesn’t make business sense to move them.
—Omar Al-Sinjari

Go Bills!
—Jim Bongard

8/15/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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