BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Sabres aren’t sold, yet.
Sabres owner Tom Golisano is seriously considering but has not yet determined whether to sell the NHL franchise to Pennsylvania billionaire Terry Pegula, a person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
“(Pegula’s) a candidate, but I don’t know how serious Tom is,” the person said. “He’s giving it serious consideration but hasn’t made up his mind.”
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday because the person is not authorized to discuss negotiations.
Golisano has declined comment since reports surfaced this week of Pegula’s interest in buying the Sabres.
Pegula could not be reached for comment. No one has answered the phone at his residence in Pennsylvania and a message left on a number listed for Pegula’s home in Florida has not been returned.
Though the Sabres aren’t for sale or actively seeking a buyer, they have been open to entertaining offers from prospective buyers.
Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn stuck to the team’s policy in declining comment, noting this is not the first time someone has expressed interest in purchasing the team.
Quinn also continued to dispute reports that Pegula has signed a purchase agreement.
Pegula is the founder and former president of the energy company East Resources Inc., a major player in Pennsylvania’s burgeoning natural gas industry that was sold to Royal Dutch Shell PLC for US$4.7 billion earlier this year. He has an estimated worth of $3 billion and was most recently ranked 110th on Forbes magazine’s list of wealthiest Americans.
In September, Pegula and his wife Kim made the largest private gift in Penn State history, donating $88 million to fund a new multipurpose arena and help upgrade the men’s hockey program. The Nittany Lions will make the move to Division I hockey in the 2012-13 season. Pegula, 59, is a Penn State graduate and has ties to western New York.
His wife is from nearby Rochester, and they’ve previously lived in Orchard Park and Olean, a 90-minute drive south of Buffalo.
Golisano purchased the Sabres for $92 million out of bankruptcy in April 2003, a move that prevented the team from relocating or potentially folding. Golisano has on several occasions indicated he’s open to adding partners or selling a majority stake of the team, so long as the Sabres remain in Buffalo.
He’s from Rochester, but has since relocated to Florida and there have been concerns raised that his interest has waned in the Sabres.
In September, Golisano said he is still actively involved with the team and makes sure to watch every game either in person or on television.