Sabres owner Terry Pegula is set to purchase the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, according to a report from the Buffalo News.
[Pegula has] reached a tentative agreement to purchase the Buffalo Bills and will take over the franchise pending approval of NFL owners, an anticipated formality, sources say. An official announcement could come today.
The news should bring cheer and relief to Bills fans, the majority of whom regard Team Pegula as the strongest ownership candidate and the one most likely to guarantee the Bills a long-term future in Buffalo.
The bid also had the backing of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who contacted influence NFL owners to voice support.
Pegula, 63, was one of three reported bidders for the Bills back in late July, along with musician Jon Bon Jovi and real estate mogul Donald Trump. The NFL franchise was up for sale following the deal of owner Ralph Wilson.
A sports enthusiast that made his fortune in the gas industry, Pegula made his first foray into ownership by purchasing the Sabres in 2011 and was celebrated for his spend-happy ways. Buffalo went big in free agency almost immediately, with Pegula signing off on lucrative deals for Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino — the pair were inked for a combined $67 million (each would eventually be bought out of his contract, interestingly enough.)
Pegula’s reach later extended to the collegiate game. He donated $100 million to his old school — Penn State — to construct an on-campus facility called the Pegula Ice Arena, which opened in 2013 and currently houses the Nittany Lions’ hockey team.
Update: According to Forbes, the Pegula purchase is believed to be $1.1 billion, which would match the total Stephen Ross paid for the Miami Dolphins — the highest price ever paid for an NFL franchise.
Update 2: Pegula has released the following statement…
“Kim and I are humbled and honored that the Wilson family has chosen us to be the second owner of the Buffalo Bills. Pending the NFL approval process, being the next owner of the Buffalo Bills would be a great privilege for our family. Ralph Wilson left an indelible mark on our community and we will strive every day to honor his legacy.
Our interest in owning the Bills has everything to do with the people of Western New York and our passion for football. We have knowledgeable, dedicated fans here and along with our ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, it is gratifying to reassure these great fans that two franchises so important to our region are both here to stay.
We are grateful to Senator Chuck Schumer and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their support and desire to keep our Bills in Western New York where they belong and to our team of professional advisors at Allen & Company and Sherrard, German & Kelly. We would also like to thank the staffs of the NFL and the Bills for helping to guide us through the sale process. We now look ahead to the NFL review process in accordance with League policy. If awarded final approval, we will be driven to achieve a singular goal: To win a Super Bowl for our fans.
Out of respect for the continuing sale process, until League approval is attained, we will have no further comment.”