The Pegula Effect

Zachary El-Sharif

 

Has there been a bigger contributor to the City of Buffalo than Terry and Kim Pegula? On February 22, 2011, the landscape of Buffalo changed for the better.

Terry and Kim Pegula after purchasing the Buffalo Bills (Gary Wiepert/The Associated Press)

Terry and Kim Pegula after purchasing the Buffalo Bills (Gary Wiepert/The Associated Press)

If you happened to live under a rock back then, here’s a little back story.  In the early 2000s, the Buffalo Sabres were facing bankruptcy until Rochester business owner Tom Golisano purchased the team. He owned the Sabres from 2003 until 2011, until he had to sell the Buffalo Sabres to Terrence (Terry) and Kimberly Pegula. It was a day that every Buffalonian will always remember. Through the agreement of purchase, Terry and Kim became owners of the Buffalo Sabres, along with the lacrosse team, the Buffalo Bandits.  In 1983, Terry was quoted as saying to his business partner Robert H. Long Jr., “If I ever have more than two nickels to my name, I’m going to buy the Buffalo Sabres one day.” Well, that day came, and he instantly made his presence felt in Western New York. I personally remember sitting at a desk and watching a live stream of the press conference; I got the chills from just thinking about how bright the future of the Sabres became that day.

That summer was a lightning storm for a team that was pegged as a penny pinching organization. They signed top free agents in Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino, as well as traded for Robyn Regehr. They looked like heavy hitters but then soon fell flat. Fast forward to this past fall; after Ralph Wilson’s death, there was a lot of doubts surrounding the Buffalo Bills. From Bon Jovi to Donald Trump, there were names thrown all over the place, but if you were a Buffalonian, you were waiting for one name to surface. Pegula. On September 9, 2015, he became the owner of the Buffalo Bills. So, the power couple of Buffalo, Terry and Kim Pegula, became household names in 4 years. He transformed his rough roster and front office for the Sabres over the past two years, and now, the Sabres have enough young talent to have a bright future in the NHL. They also have the 2nd pick in this summer’s draft, which will more than likely be potential superstar Jack Eichel. The Sabres are on the right path and will slowly and hopefully become a successful team in a league that they have been on the bottom of for the past two years. Now, Pegula has the Buffalo Bills going in the right direction, except for the most important position on the field, quarterback (which is a whole other story itself).

Terry, Kim, and their checkbook have taken the most powerful league in America by storm and have made a name for themselves. They were able to reel in the biggest name on the coaching market: Rex Ryan. You either love him or hate him, but you damn sure have to respect him. He always has the media at the edge of their seat, which is something that the Buffalo Bills are lacking and kind of always have lacked. They were able to make some power moves this past spring to get Percy Harvin, Charles Clay, LeSean McCoy, and most importantly, re-sign Jerry Hughes. Those are things that sadly would never happen under the late and great Ralph Wilson Jr. He has completely transformed the view of Buffalo sports. He’s also done so much more involving the actual city of Buffalo. His Harbor Center project (a sports complex with an attached hotel) laid the ground work for what downtown Buffalo has become. Buffalo now has things to do, and when you drive into the city, you start to feel a sense of pride, something this Rustbelt city has been missing. Buffalo, an All American city, a city built on hard work and sweat. Buffalo, home of 4 Super Bowl losses, 1 crushing Stanley Cup loss, and a football team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in 15 years. Buffalo, newly found home of Terry and Kim Pegula, who are people that love this city unconditionally for no real reason other than their sports. Which brings me to a question that many think but few refuse to ask: has there been a bigger contributor to the City of Buffalo then Terry and Kim Pegula?

 

sharif@Zackelsharif23

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