Try to comprehend how much money $1.4 billion really is

Terry Pegula owns not one, but two Buffalo sports franchises.

“How many sports franchises do I own? That’s right.”

By Nick Veronica

When you hear about the sale price of the Buffalo Bills, it’s easy to forget what all those zeros really mean.

To recap:

Terry and Kim Pegula submitted a winning bid of $1.4 billion. That’s $1,400,000,000. “One billion, four hundred million dollars.”

The Bon Jovi group bid $1.05 billion. That’s $1,050,000,000. “One billion, fifty million dollars.”

It’s hard to even comprehend that kind of money. A thousand millionaires could’ve teamed up and still been outbid!

Here’s trying to put those numbers into perspective:

>>> The Pegulas paid $175 million for the Sabres. That means they outbid the Bon Jovi group by two Buffalo Sabres organizations.

>>> You’d have to work 175 million hours at New York state minimum wage ($8/hour) to make $1.4 billion (before taxes). That’s 7,291,667 days or 19,997 years, not accounting for leap years.

So working at $8/hour, assuming you never got a raise or overtime or holiday pay and also never spent any money or paid any taxes, you would’ve had to work every hour of every day since the Late Stone Age to be able to form a bid that could compete with the Pegulas’ bid.

>>> Since living that long is a little unreasonable to ask, maybe you’d consider pooling your money. If everyone in your group worked eight hours a day for 365 days (again, excluding overtime/holiday/expenses/taxes/etc.), here’s how many people you’d need at different average group pay rates:

  • Working every day for a year at $8/hr: 59,932 people
  • At $12/hr: 39,954 people
  • At $30/hr: 15,982 people
  • At $1,000/hr: 479 people

Maybe instead you just wanted to group together every season ticket holder. If the Bills sold 42,540 season tickets last year, every holder of every seat would have to chip in more than $32,910.

>>> Maybe you’d like to target a wealthier demographic. It’d probably be a conflict of interest for football players to buy a team, but how about every player in the NHL? Using numbers from CapGeek, every player who is currently signed in the NHL will have a combined estimated cap hit of $1,915,607,276 this season. That’s enough to outbid Pegula! You could even negotiate it with the Player’s Union. Everyone gets to keep 25 percent of what he makes this season and gives the other 75 percent to buy the Bills. You’d have $1,436,705,437, about 36 million more than Pegula bid.

>>> Wait, what about winning the lottery? That could work. If you just happened to win all five of the largest Mega Millions jackpots in history, that’d give about $1.5 billion. Score!

Other comparisons

  • The CEOs of Western New York’s top 50 publicly traded companies made $96,582,585 in 2013 — less than 7 percent of the Bills sale price.
  • The Obama campaign raised about $1.072 billion in the 2012 election cycle — enough to outbid Bon Jovi but not the Pegulas.
  • You know the USAA Auto Insurance commercial where the kid says “mine was earned in Djibouti, Africa”? The entire GDP of Djibouti (and 20 other countries) is less than $1.4 billion.
  • Apple’s new ginormous iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 on a two-year contract. With $1.4 billion, you could buy 4,682,274 of them — one for every person in Louisiana, the 25th most populous state.
  • Or, better yet … a regular hot dog at Ted’s ($2.59) plus fries ($1.39) and a drink ($1.49) costs $5.95, including tax. With $1.4 billion, Pegula could’ve bought everyone in the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area (1,135,509 people) lunch for 207 days.
  • For even more happiness … $1.4 billion could buy those those 1,135,509 people a large coffee from Tim Hortons ($1.90) every morning for almost two years (649 days).
  • If you just wanted to split up that money between everyone, it’d be $123.29 per person … enough to give every person in the area full online access to the Buffalo News (and a Sunday paper) for more than a year (almost 62 weeks).
  • Forbes has estimated Pegula’s net worth to be $3.3 billion, so this sale would still leave him with more than half of his fortune. Good joke about being broke though.

  • Lastly, to keep $1.4 billion in perspective from the other direction, you’d have to give the government 12,689 times what Pegula spent to erase the national debt. (And, comparing tweets from that account, the national rose more than five times what Pegula spent just on Tuesday.)

What is a Terry Pegula?


The Buffalo Sabres hosted a season-ending press conference at the First Niagara Center Monday, with team president Ted Black and still-general manager Darcy Regier holding court.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula again bypassed an opportunity to speak to media, as has been par for his tenure in Buffalo. As the press conference turned from discussion to circus, the focus turned to Pegula’s presence (or lack thereof) as the head of the franchise.

Black said Pegula has spoken to media when appropriate, which is highly debatable, and went on to say that Pegula doesn’t need to comment on day-to-day activity when he has people employed to do that for him. Black said Pegula hired him to run the business operations, so he will discuss those, and Pegula hired Regier to run the hockey operations, so Regier will talk about hockey.

To an extent, that makes sense. If Terry Pegula doesn’t want to talk to media, he doesn’t have to. It’s his team. Continue reading

Sabres/Canisius rink update: No progress on talks this semester

It has been nearly five months since The Griffin first reported in July that the Canisius athletic department was having discussions with the Buffalo Sabres about potentially partnering to build an ice rink on campus. As a full semester goes by with no new developments in the talks, The Griffin looks for answers.

Athletic Director Bill Maher sits at a table in his office. He’s slightly on edge, but well within reasonable expectations of someone discussing a potential project he previously said would cost over $20 million.

“There’s not much to report there,” he says. “The Sabres continue to look at a number of options. We’ve continued to have discussions with them, but at this time, there’s really been no change and no meetings with the Sabres organization.”

The sides last met early in the fall and haven’t talked since. There have been several meetings since last spring but discussions seem to be cooling off.

“I’d love to be able to make an announcement and tell you [things have changed], but they really haven’t,” Maher said.

“I don’t think we’re any closer, I don’t think we’re any further apart.”

Though Sabres owner Terry Pegula has not been involved in any negotiations, he caused quite a stir last week when he and his wife Kim donated $12 million for athletic facilities to Houghton College (Kim’s alma mater). Maher thought it was a generous gift but said he isn’t concerned the owner of a business he is working with just gave eight figures to a different college for a similar project.

“I don’t look at it that way,” he said.

The discussions are yet to reach a point where the sides are hammering out individual issues — right now, they’re still talking “opportunities.” Maher remains optimistic that Canisius College will someday house its own rink, but right now, it’s a waiting game.

“When there’s the next opportunity to talk, they’ll come to us and we’ll certainly have that dialogue,” Maher said. “I don’t think there’s anything more we can do at this point in time. We can continue to make ourselves available … and from there, we’ll see.”

The ball may be in the Sabres’ court, but they aren’t talking. A team spokesperson declined to give any additional information this week. There have been discussions, but nothing new has happened. A practice facility is something the Sabres would like to have, but it’s just another item on the laundry list of improvements the team would like to make.

Without a partnership with the Sabres, it’s unlikely the school would get a rink in the near future, Maher said, a reminder that Science Hall is the school’s top priority.

C-Block Vice President James Millard was excited when he first read about the possibility of Canisius getting its own rink, but he isn’t upset that nothing has developed over the course of the semester. However, he hopes talks don’t die out completely.

“I think it would be good for the school to have our own rink on campus for two reasons,” Millard said. “One, fan attendance would skyrocket. Driving 5-10 minutes to Buff State may not seem like a big deal, [but] people would walk over just for the fun.”

Secondly, and more importantly: “You would attract a much larger audience when scouting. I ate lunch with head coach Dave Smith a couple weeks ago and he said that’s one of the main reasons people turn Canisius down when they’re looking at schools, because we don’t have our own rink.”

Until the ice freezes inside a new arena, the Griffs will continue to use Buffalo State for every practice and every home game, and administration will continue handing out money from its athletic budget to another college. Someday, local schools and youth organizations may dream of playing in the city’s only Division I facility, but until then, Canisius will travel to play its home games at D-III Buff State, home of the Bengals.

Getting a rink on campus was thought to be something Canisius had to achieve if it were to change conferences. The Griffs may not have left Atlantic Hockey even with a rink, but without one, the team will not move conferences.

“Not right now, for sure,” Maher said. “Atlantic Hockey has always been a good option for us … in the end [moving] wasn’t a better option that what Atlantic Hockey provides us right now.

“There were discussions in the summer; those discussions have closed. We’re a member of Atlantic Hockey and that’s where things stand.”

Sabres, Canisius discussing partnership to build twin rink on campus

Between the rich wood of the conference table and the leather upholstery of the 14 large chairs that surround it, the President’s Boardroom even has the scent of somewhere important meetings should take place, as if the name alone didn’t do it justice.

This room, sitting next to President John Hurley’s office, is surely the place Canisius would bring guests it wants to impress. As of late, those guests have included members of the Buffalo Sabres front office.

Talks continue to develop between Canisius College and the Buffalo Sabres regarding the possibility of building an ice rink on campus that would double as a Sabres practice facility. Athletic Director Bill Maher expects discussions — which have included members of Sabres management as high up as team president Ted Black — to pick up speed as the team opens training camp this weekend.

“I think we’re closer to having a solid discussion,” Maher said, choosing his words carefully. “[Front office personnel] left for the summer, during the draft there was some activity because a lot of folks were in town, and then it’s kind of shut down for a little while.

“With them opening training camp here shortly, I would expect that the discussion will again pick up a little bit of steam and hopefully come to some level of getting the right parties around the table to determine what everybody can do in making this project work.”

The project is nowhere near finalized, but Maher expects the price tag to be “north of $20 million.” Canisius and the Sabres are yet to discuss what percentage of the cost each side would contribute. “Everybody speculates, but [discussions] haven’t gotten to that point.”

One thing a decision has been made on is where the rink would go. Maher said the school plans to put the rink where the Upper Koessler Lot currently is, on the corner of Main Street and East Delavan Avenue. The location is somewhat cramped and the project would cut into the space where the turf field sits, but Maher said Canisius has spoken to some architects about the project and there is enough room for a double-pad ice rink.

There is water running underground below the Demske Sports Complex that was previously thought to inhibit rink construction over that area, but Maher said the spot where the rink would go “doesn’t touch it.”

“Where we would be, the facility itself would not go that far. There would be parking lots, and obviously the Demske would continue to be over [the water], but the facility itself wouldn’t be on it.”

A rink in that location and the parking around it would force the athletic fields to be relocated back to the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Florida Street, where the Spillman Lot is now, Maher said. The athletic department currently has no plans to demolish the old Health Science building that is in need of restoration.

The addition of a rink on campus, or even having something in the works, would go a long way toward the well-being of the Canisius hockey program as the landscape of college hockey changes drastically over the next few years. With new leagues forming and schools switching conferences, those who wait risk being left behind.

True, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has come to Canisius to gauge interest in a potential league jump, but should that move fall through, not having a rink on campus presents a red flag to other perspective suitors. Canisius has until June 30, 2012 to notify Atlantic Hockey it will be switching conferences, but giving the hockey program a $20 million vote of confidence long before that deadline projects a sense of commitment to the rest of the NCAA.

Canisius would clearly benefit from a rink, yet it was the Sabres who originally approached the college about the project.

“They initially came to us,” Maher said. “They were looking for some different solutions to some of their issues and they came to us about a ‘what-if’ scenario. By no means were they saying ‘Hey, we want to build something with you,’ but it was a, ‘Hey, if you’re talking about building a facility in the future at some point and we’re talking about building a facility in the future at some point, why don’t we talk about what we can do together.’ And that’s really where we are.”

Maher wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger if the deal came sooner rather than later, but he understands where the sides are in the discussions. It’s significant to be talking with the Sabres about actually making this a reality, but there is still a lot of work to be done before any agreement will be made.

“We have had multiple discussions with the Sabres about partnering on a facility. The discussions are continuing. We’re hopeful it can be something that will be mutually beneficial for both groups and that can really help us in our hockey program — and, we think, hockey in Western New York — but anything we do like that is subject to a partnership and we need to make sure it’s right for them as well.

“I’d love to say we’re going to have a deal next month, but no, I think we’re preliminary.”

Having a rink on campus has been a desire of the Canisius community for longer than anyone can remember. Though Sabres owner Terry Pegula has not yet been personally involved in these negotiations, this shared facility would be the mark of not one, but two new leaders leaving their imprint on the community and setting their organizations up for future success: First-year owner Terry Pegula and his unending crusade to turn Buffalo into Hockey Heaven, and second-year college president John Hurley’s unwavering stance to move Canisius into the future and into the national spotlight.

All that’s left to do is sit down in those big leather chairs and hash out an agreement.

“I think we’ve organized ourselves and we’ve tried to put the best case forward for why partnering with Canisius would make sense,” Maher said. “Anytime there’s a deal it takes two parties to agree, and we have to get to that point.”

Join in the EPL fun

With another season of English Premier League soccer just over a week away, this is prime time for staking claims of the club you’ll support this season.

Don’t have a reason to like any particular team? Neither do we.

ESPN carries a lot of the games and it’s more fun if you have a team to root for. Most of the games are early in the day, so there’s nothing really good on TV anyway. Why not give soccer a shot?

Nick and Corey have already written good things about the upcoming EPL season. If you don’t know anything about the teams but want to join in the fun, Nick Mendola’s “Get yourself a club” post is definitely worth checking out.

Being a fan isn’t always about having the most rational reasons for following a team. In fact, most of the reasons someone starts liking a team (outside of being from that geographical area) are pretty silly if you think about it.

Drew Neitzel: Which hand will he shoot with? Nobody knows!

I’ve written before how I started following Michigan State because I bought a $10 jacket from Steve & Barry’s when I was in middle school. (You weren’t cool if you didn’t have a Steve & Barry’s jacket.) Since then, I’ve developed slightly better reasons for following MSU. Tom Izzo is one of the best college basketball coaches in the country and I really liked Drew Neitzel. The football team is a little bit harder to root for (because they usually suck), but I get a little excited when alumni, like Drew Stanton, get a few snaps in the NFL. Say something bad about Jeff Smoker and we might have problems.

As for my EPL team, which I formally chose last year, I just kind of picked one. I narrowed it down quickly, being smart enough to know that if you really want to pick a serious club, you pick one of the big four — Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. They spend the money it takes to win and aren’t afraid of the transfer market, plus they’re usually at the top of the table (standings). Manchester City is becoming a big spender as well but lags behind in the championship category.

I knew I didn’t like Liverpool. Don’t ask me why (because I couldn’t tell you), I just don’t. So the Reds were out. I didn’t dislike Arsenal as much as Liverpool and I kind of liked United, but everybody likes Arsenal and Man U. If you really like them, that’s fine, but there’s too many bandwagon, wishy-washy “supporters” of those two clubs. I love the New York Yankees, but a lot of people who don’t know much baseball just say they like the Yankees too. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.

So I bought a Chelsea jersey.

My brother was looking online and there was a sale, so I picked one up for a good price and he bought an A.C. Milan jersey, the team I also support in the Serie A, but for a slightly more logical reasons.

The Terry Pegula do's and don'ts of Roman Abramovich: DO, win championships like him. DON'T buy 100 acres of land on the moon. I also wouldn't advise him to have a girlfriend like Abramovich, but if he wants to bring women like Darya Zhukova around in Buffalo, I'd don't think I'd mind.

I don’t know the history of the EPL like I know the American leagues but the more I read about Chelsea, it seems their recent success comes mostly from throwing big contracts at great players. But, as any fan of the Mets can tell you, that doesn’t always guarantee victory. There is definitely something to be said for the club’s performance under billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who took over in 2003. In the years since, the team has never had a finish below third in the EPL: (starting with the most recent) second, first, third, second, second, first, first and second.

The club’s moves don’t always work out (looking at you, Fernando Torres), but if Terry Pegula has half the success of Abramovich, we’re in for a real treat.

Clubs that have somehow won my support in other leagues, usually for just as stupid of reasons:

  • Spain (La Liga): Real Madrid. The jersey hanging next to Chelsea in my closet.
  • France (Ligue 1): Olympique Lyonnais, or just Lyon. Several French championships and extremely efficient use of the transfer market. If they can replace you for an equal or better player at a cheaper price, they will.
  • Germany (Bundesliga): Bayern Munich. They’ve been pretty good and have had big-name players I recognized for as long as I can remember, though most of what I remember probably comes from FIFA video games.
  • USA (MLS): New York Red Bull. Started liking them when they were the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and had Eddie Pope, but probably just because New York City is so close.
  • Portugal (Primeira Liga): F.C. Porto. I own with them in FIFA. Kinda pissed they ditched the sponsorship for thier frog jerseys.
  • Turkey (Süper Lig): Galatasaray. Turkey is a lot more populous than you probably think. They love soccer and their teams, because of their population, are some of the most liked in all of Europe. I like Galatasaray, but mostly for the name.
  • Russia (Premier League): CSKA Moscow, but only because they’re money in ESPN’s Streak for the Cash.
  • Holland (Eredivisie): Ajax Amsterdam, or just Ajax. I don’t know, man. I just do.