by John Biehler
The NHL took control of the Sabres in June 2002 when former owner John Rigas and his sons were arrested for bank, wire and securities fraud for embezzling more than $ 2 billion from Adelphia Communications. Rigas was eventually convicted and is presently appealing a sentence of 15 years in prison. Though the league took control of the team, Rigas legally remained the owner.
For a while it was rumored the Sabres would be forced to either relocate or fold. In April 2003, after 10 months without any ownership, local businessman Tom Golisano put in a bid to buy the Sabres that was approved by the U.S. bankruptcy court and the NHL Board of Governors. The $ 92 million deal, which included no government funding, included the Sabres, control of HSBC Arena and the NLL Buffalo Bandits.
Golisano is the Founder, Chairman, President and CEO of Rochester, N.Y.-based Paychex, Inc. He started Paychex, a payroll processing company, in 1971 at the age of 30. The company employs over 8,500 people and serves more than 490,000 clients. In 2004, Paychex was named one of the 26 best managed American companies by Forbes and first in the business service industry. Golisano also ran for governor of New York on the Independent Party ticket in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
New Logo Issues
In June 2006, the Sabres introduced a new logo for the 2006-07 season. The logo, designed by Reebok, is a combination of the franchise’s previous logos. The home jerseys are blue with yellow numbers, a gold and silver collar and white underarms. The road jersey is white with blue numbers on the front and back and gold numbers on the blue sleeves, as well as a blue and gold collar with gold inseams. The team’s third jersey will be the original blue and gold jersey with the original Sabres logo. The club also unveiled changes to its mascot, Sabretooth, who went from red with black stripes to gold with blue stripes. The logo and uniform changes cost the franchise about $ 200,000 in design fees, new equipment and arena re-decorating. The new jerseys likely attributed to the Sabres finishing the season as the top jersey seller,having six of the ten most purchased NHL jerseys in 2006-07.
In 1996, Midland Marine Bank paid $ 15 million for 20-year naming rights. In 1999, as part of HSBC’s worldwide corporate rebranding, the arena’s name was changed to the HSBC Arena, when U.S. Bank’s name became HSBC Bank. As part of the agreement, the contract was extended for 10 additional years, until 2026.
During the 2006-07 season the Sabres introduced a variable pricing ticketing system for individual game tickets. Each game is designated by one of four different classifications (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Value). Each classification is determined by the opponent, time of year, day of the week, rivalries and games against premier players. Gold Tickets ($ 50-$ 150) are typically the games in highest demand with regard to the opponent or the date of the game. Silver Games ($ 33-$ 92) are usually weekend games or games against high demand opponents. Bronze Games ($ 23-$ 83) are primarily mid-week games against less appealing opponents. Finally, Value Games are “family friendly” games that are offered at a deeply discounted rate ($ 16-$ 72).