Buffalo Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula are under fire from inside their organization. Tim Graham reported and investigated an incredible piece for The Athletic on Monday detailing a series of missteps, questionable decisions, culture concerns, cost-cutting measure, deficient morale and more across the Pegula portfolio.
As a Buffalo Bills website, we won’t linger on the litany of problems concerning the Buffalo Sabres and elsewhere, but they are extensive. The problems are so bad at the downtown offices of Pegula Sports & Entertainment (PSE), team executives—including head coach Sean McDermott himself—are concerned it will bleed into the Orchard Park facilities of the Bills.
“The culture is legitimate,” a Bills source said. “Whatever’s going on with the Sabres, I don’t care. That’s their problem. Their shit better not affect what we built.”
The concerns for the Bills began after their January playoff run when the Pegulas held a teleconference with a large portion of the organization laying out their goals for the future. A document obtained by The Athletic showed three areas of focus: “win championships, sustainability, return on investment.”
“People were walking out of those meetings like they’d been punched in the gut,” a Bills management source told The Athletic. “We just made the playoffs in the NFL, where it’s impossible to lose money. We’re firing on all cylinders. Now we have to pinch pennies? The morale after those meetings was lower than the day Ralph Wilson died.”
In all, 39 current and former employees were interviewed for the wide-ranging story. One takeaway that was prevalent in the responses to Graham: “The Pegulas’ resources and attention are stretched too thin by businesses not related to the core mission of winning games.”
Kim Pegula is the Bills’ team president, but also is team president of the Sabres and has a hand in the operations of a number of side ventures that are both aligned with the sports teams (like Harborcenter) and that aren’t (like marketing firms and country music).
Terry Pegula made his money in natural gas, but with the price of natural gas plummeting in recent years, he has shuttered that part of his business.
In short, the Pegulas could be hurting for cash now and into the future. While their investments are valued highly, that doesn’t mean they can pull the value out to make payroll. And all of these concerns came to light in January, before the coronavirus slammed the U.S. economy and particularly the entertainment industries and sports leagues on which the Pegulas rely.