© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate Today Banner

Hamister Suspends Bid, Will Golisano Re-Enter?

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Once again, the Sabres future is uncertain in Buffalo. The National Hockey League is ready to accept new bids for the franchise now that businessman Mark Hamister has suspended his offer to buy the team.

"Effective immediately I am suspending my bid to purchase the Buffalo Sabres," Hamister said.

Hamister says it is with great regret that he is suspending his bid. He failed to meet Monday's NHL deadline to sign an asset purchase agreement.

At a news conference, Hamister also announced that his partner, Todd Berman, withdrew his investment. He says Berman grew frustrated with the process and failure to put a deal together over the past weekend.

But Hamister says the biggest reason for suspending his bid was a delay in gaining a commitment from the state, county and city government. Hamister was seeking a big portion of state assistance from the Empire Zone program.

"The largest piece that we have before us is the government ask," Hamister said. "We still have two or three things on the asset purchase agreement left and unresolved, and that was only as a result not having time to spend on it. We were spending all our time on the government ask. We would have been disingenuous if we continued."

Hamister says bankruptcy for both the Sabres and Adelphia complicated the deal. But his efforts to buy the team may not be over. Hamister says he's already looking for a new finance partner.

The NHL says Hamister's exclusive negotiating right to buy the team has expired, leaving the league "free to entertain" other offers. That would include Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano.

In a January 23 letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Golisano said if the current bid fails he was committed to buying the team and "keeping" it in Buffalo. Hamister was asked about teaming with Golisano.

"I have not talked to him," Hamister said. "I have not received a phone call from him, and I have no plans to do so (make a call to Golisano) at this time."

The NHL says its objective remains to find a buyer who will maintain the team in Buffalo.

In Buffalo Monday, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said his office will undertake a study to determine the economic impact of the Buffalo Sabres.

Hevesi said he expects the study will show the Sabres do have a significant impact and that a state subsidy would be warranted.