BUFFALO, N.Y. - Having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on hockey over the past year, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has turned his attention ? and deep pockets ? to the NFL and the player's side of the ball.
The Pennsylvania billionaire expanded his sports empire on Tuesday by acquiring the Atlanta-based France AllPro Athlete Management, a high-profile NFL player agent firm headed by Todd France.
"This was an easy decision for us," Pegula said in a release issued by both the Sabres and the firm. "We did extensive research to find the perfect fit. All of my resources had nothing but praise for Todd. His reputation among the elite NFL executives was phenomenal."
AllPro represents more than 50 NFL players, including Baltimore running back Ray Rice, Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe and Buffalo Bills rookie first-round draft pick, tackle Marcell Dareus.
It's estimated the firm has negotiated more than US$1 billion in player contracts since 2005.
France will maintain his role as the agency's president and CEO.
"It's a huge honour to have been hand-picked by Terry, his wife Kim and his entire management team as the agent they wanted to partner with," France said. "Terry gives us unlimited potential for growth and new opportunities for our existing and future clients."
Pegula made his fortune in the natural gas industry, and is now cashing it in on his passion for sports.
Pegula has previously dabbled in NFL player agent firms. He's backed the Charlotte, N.C.-based Ayrault Sports Agency headed by Brian Ayrault. As part of the purchase, Ayrault will join AllPro as a contract adviser and lawyer.
Pegula enjoys being in the loop in learning about players. When Dareus' name was mentioned during a casual meeting with The Associated Press in September, Pegula immediately pulled out his cellphone and texted an agent to learn more about the player.
A longtime Sabres season-ticket holder, Pegula purchased the NHL team in February. He then proceeded to buy the Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans, in June.
In September 2010, Pegula and his wife Kim made the largest private gift in Penn State history, donating $88 million to Terry's alma mater 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.
Last week, the Pegulas donated $12 million to Kim's alma mater, Houghton College, to help build a multi-use sports complex as the western New York college prepares to become a Division III program.