I must say some of the statements that will follow in this article are pretty damning and they paint a very different picture of Terry Pegula and wife Kim Pegula than the public image they maintain as the saviors of professional sports in Buffalo, New York.
The Athletic's Tim Graham recently published an article in which he produced quotes from a huge number of people who are both current and former employees of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the company that was created after the aforementioned Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League, Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and the Buffalo Bandits, also of the National Lacrosse League, combined their sports properties under one umbrella.
Trouble began to arise last January after a presentation from Kim Pegula was reportedly very poorly received by employees, a presentation that included a slide in which Kim Pegula made it clear that she expected the sports franchises to perform well enough financially to keep supporting the Pegula family's lifestyle, something that was confirmed via a slide from that presentation that was spread around the office. Needless to say employee morale dropped considerably following that presentation.
“People were walking out of those meetings like they’d been punched in the gut,” a Bills management source said as per The Athletic. “We just made the playoffs in the NFL, where it’s impossible to lose money. We’re firing on all cylinders. Now we have to pinch pennies?
“The morale after those meetings was lower than the day Ralph Wilson died.”
To make matters worse some of the organization's vice presidents took some of the slides from that presentation and shared them with different departments, all the while stating that one of Kim's primary organizational goals was to fund her and her family's lifestyle.
“What that told me,” said one current PSE employee, “is I’m getting laid off before they cancel that family trip to Tahiti.”
The Pegulas founded Pick Six Creative and in November they fired 10 of the 30 employees, this just 2 years after the company's founding, and that was followed by PSE firing their entire hospitality division on March 20th. Add to that the fact that PSE fired 21 additional employees last week and furloughed an additional 104 and you can start to see a picture forming that is not all that pleasant.
“I used to feel proud to tell people I worked for PSE,” said a current employee. “Then there was a point I just had to force a smile when talking about my job. Now, when people ask me about openings, I tell them not to apply.”
There have been many quick to blame the current global situation for the layoffs but according to Graham this is a situation that has been brewing within PSE long prior to this crisis and it sounds like the people who have been let go were going to be sent packing regardless of whether or not we found ourselves in this current predicament. This has resulted in a number of long time season ticket holders putting an end to their ticket packages including Bonny Seiling, the wife of former National Hockey League center Rene Robert, known for his part in the "French connection line" during his time with the Buffalo Sabres.
It seems the once beloved Pegulas are now facing a public relations crisis of their own making and I am afraid that this could lead to even more frustration for a Sabres fan base that has not seen their team make the playoffs for 9 straight seasons.