Despite a severe economic downturn in 2020, both before and after the COVID-19 shutdown, Kim and Terry Pegula insist they are fine financially and so are the Buffalo Bills. The owners met with the media on Tuesday in response to a housecleaning at the Buffalo Sabres, the NHL team also owned by the Pegulas.
In April, The Athletic reported that belt-tightening was taking place with the Buffalo Sabres but those moves were planned before the coronavirus shutdowns began in March. Several members of the Bills, including head coach Sean McDermott, were concerned the problems could spill over to the Bills despite the NFL franchise being profitable and successful.
Terry Pegula addressed the reports on Tuesday.
“First off, there is no financial situation,” he said. “I don’t know where that rumor started. Yeah, if you look at every oil and gas company, which is our core business outside of sports, they’re all, you might use the word ‘hurting.’ But we don’t have any debt on our oil and gas business. We need to do better moving forward in the sports business like every team is going to do have to do. If we don’t have any fans in the seats next year, what are your economics in the world of sports? We need that component, especially in the National Hockey League. Even though times are not good in any of these businesses, you still have to find solutions and have to look up and try to find those solutions. Talking about the Bills right now, there is no financial pressure that’s negative on the franchise.”
Discussing the Sabres on Tuesday, however, they said they are looking to cut costs for a team that’s been hemorrhaging money as they’ve failed to fill the arena with a bad product on the ice. Unlike the NFL, where most of the money comes from the shared revenue of the league, NHL teams are very dependent on the local gate. On Tuesday, the Sabres fired a large portion of their scouting staff and minor league coaching staff while also replacing the team’s general manager.
The Bills’ lease at New Era Field is up in 2023. If they are planning on building a new stadium, you would think the plans would be announced in the very near future. It’s likely the Pegulas will be asking for taxpayer money for the project as Kim Pegula has stated in the past that buying the team tied up a significant amount of their spending capital.
Two more financial decisions should be on the table right now, too. General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott only have two years left on their deals. Locking them up to an extension would be a good PR move for the owners now in the middle of another upheaval with the Sabres.