Terry Pegula, owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, appears to be close to purchasing the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. The sale price is expected to exceed $1 billion, and has tentatively been approved by members of late owner Ralph Wilson's estate, according to sources.
Pegula reportedly beat out a Toronto Group that included rock singer Jon Bon Jovi, who had never given assurances that the team would not be moved to Toronto. The deal would still need approval by three-quarters of the league’s 31 owners.
The Bills were put up for sale after owner and founder Ralph Wilson’s death in March. Wilson had owned the team since they began play as a member of the American Football League in 1960. The team has failed to reach the playoffs since 1999, and has not finished with a .500 record since 2004. The organization famously reached the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons from 1990-1993, but failed to win a Super Bowl title.
Pegula, 63, has a net worth of over $3.3 billion, according to Forbes. In 1983, Pegula founded East Resources, an oil and gas exploration company, and eventually sold it to Royal Dutch Shell for roughly $4.7 billion in 2010.
Pegula purchased the Sabres from Tom Golisano in 2011 for $189 million. In March 2013, construction began for HARBORCENTER, a privately financed $172 million downtown hockey-themed complex directly across from First Niagara Center, the home of the Sabres.
There has been speculation that Pegula may consider building a downtown football stadium to replace Ralph Wilson Stadium, which is owned by Erie County.
The sale of the Bills is the first for the NFL since Randy Lerner sold the Cleveland Browns to truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam for roughly $1 billion in Aug. 2012.