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BUFFALO NEWS HAS SABRES FACING "A HOST OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS"
Published March 27, 1998
When Adelphia Chair John Rigas becomes owner of the Sabres, he will be "taking over a franchise facing a host of serious problems," according to Robinson & Warner of the BUFFALO NEWS. Because the Sabres have lost $15M during each of the last three years, the deal "requires" Rigas to pay "only" $5M cash to the existing owners. Rigas "also has pledged to pay another" $10.5M, plus interest, over the "next few years." Robinson & Warner wrote that despite the opening of Marine Midland Arena, the team has lost about $46M in the last three years "largely because of the franchise's ballooning debt load" that stands at "nearly" $81M. Another $6M was lost "in the first four months" of the current FY. The team's season-ticket base "shrank" by 1,600 this season to 8,634, almost 16% less than last year. But the Sabres purchase "gives Rigas a valuable source of programming for Adelphia's Empire Sports Network," which already pays the team "a minimum" of $1.6M per season to air 70 games. A source said that the deal "also gives Rigas and Adelphia the chance to use some of the Sabres' losses to offset other income and reduce taxes" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/26).