(WECK 1230) — The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell has filed a report that businessman Terry Pegula has signed a letter of intent to buy the Buffalo Sabres from current owner Tom Golisano for $150 million.
Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn issued the following statement in response:
“Reports regarding the sale of the Buffalo Sabres tend to surface from time to time. There have been several inquiries in the past few years regarding this subject. Our company policy is we do not comment on them because people make inquiries all the time. Some of these inquiries are serious, some are not, some make the media and others do not. The report that a $150 million letter of intent has been signed is simply not true.”
In other words, a $149 million or $151 million letter of intent may have been signed. Never forget that Quinn is a man of clever verbage and public relations. He wouldn’t issue a statement saying, “Heck yes! Details in a month or so!” He also wouldn’t want to make any comments that the team was for sale when the league could squash the deal at any moment. Of course, Campbell’s report could be wrong.
Edit: An inarguable source has contacted me and says that no letter of intent for any figure has been signed… period.
Pegula recently donated $88 million to start a Division-I hockey program and build new facilities at Penn State University. He is the founder and CEO of East Resources. He was ranked No. 110 on the latest Forbes 400, and his wife hails from Western New York.
What is East Resources? Depending on where you fall politically, either pivotal to economic development or insidious, as the company drills for natural resources throughout Pennsylvania. In my opinion, it is not conspiratorial to wager that the political capital of buying the Sabres could help with expanding this into New York State.
Pegula was quoted in a January 2010 article in the Buffalo News about the controversial practice of hydrofracking.
Golisano bought the team in 2003 for $92 million, helping save the team from bankruptcy. Clearly, his reward would no longer be one that consists solely of verbal high-fives and political capital.
“Could this be a cog in the machine to pry the Buffalo Bills away from Ralph Wilson?” is a question being lobbed at me from every angle, and the answer is obviously, “Yes, it could.” Obviously, it also couldn’t, and I wouldn’t expect an answer to this question any time soon.
Campbell told Buffalo radio station WGR that Pegula and Golisano want the deal to be consummated by the end of the year. WECK’s Bill O’Loughlin says this would be to skirt the potential capital gains taxes of 2011. It the sale goes down this year, it will be 15 percent. If the team is sold next year, it could rise significantly under Barack Obama.