Back in 1983, Terry Pegula told 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.” Almost 30 years later, Terry’s dream has come to fruition.
A NEW ERA OF SABRES HOCKEY
On Feb. 22, 2011, Terry Pegula became the fourth owner in Buffalo Sabres franchise history. The day he was introduced as owner, the Sabres were 27-25-6 and sat in ninth place in the Eastern Conference - five points out of a playoff spot. Pegula’s purchase not only re-energized the fan base, but the players as well. With Pegula now at the helm, the Sabres went on a 16-4-4 run over the final 24 games of the season to finish seventh in the East. This included a 9-1-2 record at home, with every remaining home game selling out.
The momentum of the new era would stretch well into the offseason as the home of the Sabres – renamed First Niagara Center in August 2011 – began a multimillion dollar facelift. The renovations, which were completed in time for the 2011-12 season, included a new state-of-the-art locker room with updated training and rehabilitation areas, a player lounge and coaches offices. Along with the locker room transformation, First Niagara Center underwent several other upgrades with a focus on providing the best possible game-day experience for Sabres fans.
Buffalo fans responded to this new era of Sabres hockey in an overwhelming fashion. Since Pegula’s acquisition of the team, the Sabres have ranked among the NHL’s leaders in game attendance at First Niagara Center and in local and national TV ratings. The excitement incited by Pegula doesn’t appear to be subsiding any time soon; the season ticket renewal rate remains consistently high each season and the waiting list has grown to include more than 2,000 names.
In 2012 Terry and Kim Pegula looked to make an even bigger impact on the City of Buffalo. On Aug. 29, 2012, it was announced that the city had selected the Pegulas and their development team to develop and construct HARBORCENTER, a $200 million multipurpose facility that sits directly across from First Niagara Center, the home of the Sabres, in the city’s Canalside District. HARBORCENTER is anchored by two new NHL-size ice rinks that are used year-round by a variety of Buffalo-area hockey teams and leagues.
Also in the facility is (716) Food and Sport, an upscale, sports-themed bar and restaurant, a one-of-a-kind Tim Hortons location that pays homage to the former Sabres player, additional retail space, a parking structure and a 200-room, full-service Marriott hotel.
HARBORCENTER draws more than 500,000 people to downtown Buffalo annually and, coupled with First Niagara Center, provides a premier destination for hockey fans.
Soon after purchasing the Sabres, the Pegulas explored the idea of acquiring the Rochester Americans, the AHL team that had previously spent 29 years as the Sabres’ affiliate before a three-year hiatus. On June 24, 2011, the Sabres announced the reunification of the Western New York teams as Pegula became the owner of the Amerks and resumed one of the longest and most successful partnerships between an NHL and AHL club.
Like the Sabres, the Amerks experienced a momentum change when the Pegulas became owners. The Americans had the highest jump in attendance in the AHL in 2011-12, a 44.5 percent increase from the previous season, and vaulted from 25th in league attendance to 13th in just one season. As the Amerks progressed into the Calder Cup Playoffs, fans were attending the games in numbers not seen since 1990.
On Friday, Oct. 14, 2014, the Pegulas realized a long-time dream as they became only the second owners in the Buffalo Bills’ 55-year franchise history.
A few days later at their introductory press conference, Terry and Kim were greeted as the new owners of the Bills. With all of Western New York and much of the NFL community watching, Terry, who also serves as the team’s CEO, issued an opening statement that resonated throughout Bills nation and beyond.
“My name is Terry Pegula and the Pegulas just bought a football team. Actually, that’s not totally correct…we all just bought a team…our team…the Buffalo Bills. The name of our team will not change. It will stay the Buffalo Bills.”
With that now-famous quote from Terry, the Pegula era of Buffalo Bills football was ushered in with the assurance that the Buffalo Bills would stay in Western New York.
The excitement surrounding the start of the Pegula era has transferred to Bills fans as well and a great indicator of the fans’ enthusiasm came in late June of 2015 when the Bills set a new franchise record for season tickets sold, eclipsing the old mark of 57,321, set in 1992.
COMMITMENT TO COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS
On Sept. 17, 2010 Terry and Kim donated $88 million to Penn State University – the largest private gift in the history of the school – to fund a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena and a world-class practice facility, to help establish an NCAA Division I men’s hockey program. The Pegulas announced in 2012 they would increase their donation to the Nittany Lion hockey program to $102 million to allow for the endowment of student athlete scholarships.
Thanks to their generosity, Penn State has been able to add both men’s and women’s varsity hockey teams. Pegula Ice Arena, which opened in 2013 and enjoyed a sold-out 2013-14 season, includes two ice sheets and serves as the only major ice facility within an 80-mile radius of State College. In addition to providing hockey and figure skating opportunities for the entire Central Pennsylvania region, it is also used for a broad range of campus and community activities.
In 2011, the Pegulas pledged $12 million for the construction of a new athletic center on the campus of Houghton College, Kim’s alma mater. The second-largest gift in school history allowed Houghton to transition to NCAA Division III athletics.
The Kerr-Pegula Athletic Complex formally opened on Oct. 4, 2014. The project included the construction of both a new baseball and softball stadium, resurfacing of Burke Field (a multi-sport competition field), and the construction of an 115,000-square-foot fieldhouse that will enable the college and region to host year-round athletic competitions. The fieldhouse features an eight lane, 200-meter regulation size track, five tennis courts, cardio fitness center, weight lifting room, MVP conference room, commercial kitchen and concessions, locker-room facilities and office space. The facility provides dedicated practice space for outdoor sports during the winter and in the event of inclement weather and also has the ability to host major concerts and events with a maximum capacity of more than 6,000 people.
A HOCKEY FAN AND A BUSINESS MAN
Pegula’s interest in the NHL began when the Sabres faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1975 Stanley Cup Final. His affection for the “French Connection” line began with that series, and led to his affinity for the Sabres franchise. While operating East Resources Inc. in Western New York and Pittsburgh throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, and living in Vestal, Olean and Orchard Park during that span, Terry first bought season tickets at the Memorial Auditorium in 1980. He remained a loyal Sabres season ticket holder for the next 18 seasons.
Born in 1951 and raised in Carbondale, Pa., he attended high school at Scranton Preparatory School. Pegula entered Penn State University as a Math major, but in order to stay in school he entered the Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering program through a scholarship. He went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1973, and landed his first job with Getty Oil Co. in Victoria, Texas. He later joined Felmont Oil Co., a decision that first brought him to Olean, N.Y., in 1975.
In 1983, he borrowed $7,500 from family and friends to found East Resources Inc., an independent oil and gas exploration and development company. Over the next 27 years, he built it into one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. In July of 2010, Royal Dutch Shell purchased the assets of East Resources Inc. for $4.7 billion (US). That sale allowed the Pegulas to make their first foray into the hockey world.
The Pegulas expanded their business interests in the summer of 2014 by forming Pegula Sports and Entertainment, a multifaceted parent company of 12 separate companies. Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s roster of companies currently includes: the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills; the AHL’s Rochester Americans; the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits; Black River Entertainment and its related properties; Black River Publishing; Sound Stage Studio; Ronnie’s Place Studio; HARBORCENTER and its components – (716) Food and Sport, the Academy of Hockey, and IMPACT Sports Performance, a high-performance training facility for professional and amateur athletes.
Terry is an avid sports fan and his connections to Western New York run deep. He held season tickets for the Sabres from 1980 through 1998 and lived in Buffalo during the Bills’ championship years in the 1990s.
Raised in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, Terry attended Scranton Preparatory School. He entered Penn State University as a math major, but in order to stay in school, he entered the Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering program through a scholarship. He went on to graduate with a bachelor of science degree in 1973 and landed his first job with Getty Oil Co. in Victoria, Texas. He later joined Felmont Oil Co., a decision that brought him to Olean, New York in 1975.
In 1983, he borrowed $7,500 from family and friends to create East Resources Inc., an independent oil and gas exploration and production company operating in the Appalachian Basin. Over the next 27 years, Terry built it into one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. In July of 2010, Royal Dutch Shell purchased the assets of East Resources Inc., which continues to be active today.
Kim serves as president and chief executive officer of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, overseeing all aspects of the 12 sports and entertainment subsidiaries that make up the multifaceted parent company.
A native of Western New York, Kim grew up in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, New York. She attended Houghton College and graduated in 1991 with a degree in communications.
Kim began her professional career with East Resources in 1991 and was involved with the company until its sale in 2010. In that same year, Kim helped found Black River Entertainment.
Terry and Kim currently reside in Boca Raton, Florida, and have five children: Michael, Laura, Jessica, Kelly and Matthew. The Pegulas’ younger daughters, Jessica and Kelly, were both born in Buffalo.