All due respect to the Buffalo Bisons, but its safe to say Terry and Kim Pegula pretty much own the professional sports scene in Buffalo. Hell, he may as well own the town with the way he’s built HarborCenter. While owing two sports teams is a lot of responsibility in terms of dictating the psyche of your typical fan, there’s also the possibility of it being too much for the owner. Maybe its too much control. Maybe you are spreading yourself too thin. Maybe you have more love for one team than the other. Maybe having more love for a team is a bad thing in terms of making tough decisions like firing your hero.
Maybe when you own the sports scene, you can get away with more in terms of selling an inferior product or you can get more backlash because the buck stops with you constantly. For Pegula, owning two sports teams is common place in sports world, but what are the results of it?
This piece I’m to go over the some of the owners who have owned multiple professional teams:
The Dolan Family/The Madison Square Garden Network:
New York Knicks (1997-today. 1 division title, 1 NBA Finals appearance, 8 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 9 times)
New York Rangers (1997-Today: 1 division title, 1 NHL Finals appearance, 8 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 8 times)
This might be harsh, but The Dolan family kind of remind me a little of Pegula’s short time in owning the Sabres, except without the charm. They are known as being a corporation/family who put tons of money into their teams and for the most part it has resulted in underwhelming results.
From the network (MSG) to the cable provider (Cablevision) to pretty much all the buildings around Madison Square Garden, including the arena itself, the Dolans own everything. When it comes to the lacking charm part, its that James Dolan (The Chairman) is seen as a buffoon around these parts. Its viewed that he really doesn’t care much about the Rangers, hence why they are much better than the Knicks. However, his hands are all over the Knicks and their dysfunction. Up until the last few years for the Rangers, both teams have thrown bag of money towards players who ended up not paying off. Both teams ended up keeping coaches/GMs waaaaaaaaay longer than fans wanted (See: Glenn Sather/Isiah Thomas). Trust me, Knicks and Rangers fans hate the Dolans.
Chicago White Sox (1981-present. 5 division titles, 1 championship, 5 playoff appearances/Division titles and missed the playoffs 29 times)
Chicago Bulls (1985-present. 7 division titles, 6 NBA Championships, 24 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 7 times)
Reinsdorf is the only guy on this list to win a championship with both of his teams. Of course, having Michael Jordan on one of your teams is going to accentuate the odds of bringing home a title. Its been speculated that Reinsdorf is much more of a baseball guy than a basketball guy to the point that he felt his World Series win was much bigger than the 6 titles with the Bulls. While the guy has titles, he’s been known as a bit of a cheapskate. Ask Scottie Pippen about his contract negotiations with the Bulls. During the Bulls heyday, it was always perceived that Jordan/Pippen/Jackson were against management, specifically with getting paid. As for baseball, Reinsdorf was a big proponent of the 1994 strike and eventually was a big part of revenue sharing.
Ted Turner/Time Warner/Atlanta Spirit-
Atlanta Braves- Ted Turner: 1976-1996, Time Warner: 1996-2007. 15 division titles, 1 championship, 15 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 14 times.
Atlanta Hawks- Ted Turner: 1976-1996, Time Warner: 1996-2004, Atlanta Spirit: 2004 to present- 3 division titles, 27 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 15 times.
Atlanta Thrashers: Time Warner: 1999-2004. Atlanta Spirit: 2004-2011 (0 division titles, o championships, 1 playoff appearance, missed the playoffs 10 times.
So, I kind of just put all three entities together on this one because all three teams and three ownership groups pretty much played hot potato. Let’s start with Ted Turner. Turner, as most of you know, was a big time entrepreneur/pioneer in the 80s and 90s. Without getting into his biography, Turner bought a few cable stations in the 70s and then a few sports teams. TBS was one of the stations he bought and he needed programming on it, so, the Hawks and Braves were his answers. For the most part, the Braves were awful for the 70s and most of the 80s while the Hawks were respectable with Dominique Wilkins. But things changed for the Braves as Turner started putting more money into them after his cable empire blew up (See: CNN, TNT, TBS). Seriously, the dude owned a wrestling company. The Braves won like 14 straight division titles and were the class of the NL for much of the 90s.
Because of Ted Turner’s cable network boom and that explosion of the Internet, there ended up being a merger with AOL/Time Warner in 1996 (Note: This ended up being possibly the worst corporate merger ever as tons of money was lost). By 1999, Time Warner ended up getting into the hockey world as they found the Atlanta Thrashers. However, the giant conglomerate soon hit hard times as the dotcom balloon burst and more TV stations popped up on Cable. Subsequently, the corporate suits quietly took over to the point that Turner actually resigned about 7 years later. Once the suits took over, you could tell they weren’t going to put as much money into their teams and both the Braves/Hawks suffered because of it.
Because AOL Time Warner was losing money, they started shredding assets, namely their sports teams. They sold the Braves to Liberty Media and the Thrashers and Hawks to Atlanta Spirit. The Atlanta Spirit did alright with the Hawks, but they were dreadful with the Thrashers. Rumor is that the group didn’t care too much about hockey and it doesn’t help that Atlanta isn’t a good sports town to begin with. The Thrashers stunk and no one in Atlanta cared about them. Atlanta Spirt sold the Thrashers to True North Sports who ended up moving the team to Winnipeg. On a side note, The Philips Arena where the Hawks/Thrashers played at is probably the worst lit arena in the USA.
Denver Nuggets- 2001-present: 3 division titles, 10 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 3 times
Colorado Avalanche- 2001-present: 1 championship, 4 division titles, 8 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs 5 times
St. Louis Rams: 2010-present: 0 division titles, 0 playoff appearances, missed the playoffs every year.
Here is the only entity that has 3 sports teams under their belt. Pretty much the dad runs the Rams and then the kids are running the Avs/Nuggets. This was the idea that could have happened if Jacobs/Delaware North decided to buy the Bills and keep the Bruins. The dad would take one team and the kids would take the other. For the most part, there’s a lot of meh here. The Rams are on their way to LA it seems like and the team just isn’t very good. The Avs won a championship the first year Kroenke sports took over, but since then they haven’t come close to repeating the success they had during the mid to late 90s. The Nuggets are probably more consistent team of the trio, but they have recently fell on hard times.
Dallas Stars- 1995-2011: 7 division titles, 10 playoff appearances, 1 world championship and another championship appearance.
Texas Rangers-1998-2011: 1 division title, 2 playoff appearances.
What started off as a pretty strong ownership tenure, ended pretty badly for Tom Hicks. The Stars were hot after Hicks bought the team and they made the playoffs every year except two seasons from 1995-2008. However, it went down the drain for them for the next few seasons as they didn’t make the playoffs until Hicks was gone. As for baseball, well, he’ll always be known as they owner who gave A-Rod his first massive contract. A contract that I believe was like 80-million more than the next highest paid player. He also gave awful contracts to guys like Chan Ho Park. Also, I think everyone on Rangers around this time (Early 2000s) was connected to roids (See: Palmeiro/Arod). The product on the field was the least of Hicks worries. His tenure ended when he defaulted on 500 million on loans and was forced to sell both his teams in 2011. Yeah..so, he’s like the John Rigas of this ownership group except he didn’t steal, he just went belly up.
Wayne Huzienga (Florida Marlins/Miami Dolphins)
Miami Dolphins: 1994-2008: 8 playoffs appearances, 3 division titles, missed the playoffs 6 times
Florida Marlins: 1993-1998: 1 playoff appearance, 1 world championship, missed the playoffs 5 times
Wayne Huzienga owning the Marlins is the strangest thing ever. Who the hell owns a sports team for 5 years? In a nutshell, the Marlins won the WS in 1997 after Wayne spent a shit ton of money prior to the season on free agents. They just bought everyone and a championship for the most part. Then, after winning the title, the Marlins sold off all their assets like they were Michael Jackson and lost 100 games the following season. Wayne was done with baseball and sold his team. As for the Dolphins, they were always blah during his 14 years as the owner. They could never find a QB (Sound familiar?) and they paid a lot of money to the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban and Bill Parcells, but 10-6 always seemed the best they could do.
Tom Benson (New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans)
New Orleans Saints: 1985-present: 10 playoff appearances, 5 division titles, 1 world championship, missed the playoffs 19 times
New Orleans Pelicans: 2012-present: 1 playoff appearance
Mixed feelings about Benson’s time as Saints owner. On the field, they have been decent, especially when you consider how bad they were in the 70s and early 80s. They also have a SB title. However, if it wasn’t for the pressure from the NFL after Hurricane Katrina, Benson would have probably moved the team to San Antonio. Hell, he wanted to move it after the storm happened, but the NFL realized that would have been a disastrous PE move. So, he’s kind of a douche. However, I’d totally take what the Saints have done over the last 25 years. As for the Pelicans, well, they got Anthony Davis recently and things are looking up for them.
Paul Allen (Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks)
Portland Trailblazers-1988-present- 20 playoff appearances, 5 division titles,
Seattle Seahawks-1996-present- 10 playoff appearances, 8 division titles, 1 world championship and 2 other championship game appearances.
You know how some in the lamestream were constantly bitching about how Pegula doesn’t talk enough? Well, see Paul Allen. Allen never talks in public about the Hawks/Trailblazers. He stays in the darkness and lets everyone else run his teams. In fact, some criticism of Paul during the mid-2000s consisted of him not being around enough. Anyways, you can’t argue with the accomplishments for what both his teams have done. They spend money and they hire competent folks to run their teams. Both teams have bright futures.
Ted Leonis (Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals)
Washington Capitals-1999-present- 7 division titles, 10 playoff appearances
Washington Wizards- 2010-present- 2 playoff appearances
Leonis made his money off the success of AOL in the 90s and put that money into buying the Caps. He actually was one of the first owners in professional sports to embrace blogging by giving shmucks like me access. Anyways, the caps division titles may same a bit overrated because the Southeast division was the drizzling shits for like a decade. As for the Wizards, they had a 5 year playoff drought between 2008 and 2013, but have recently made the playoffs the last two seasons thanks in part to Jon Wall
Maple Leaf Sports- Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs-1927-present- They suck
Toronto Raptors-1997-present- 5 playoff appearances
It never gets old to take a dump on Maple Leaf Sports as a Buffalo fan. We may have our own problems, but it takes a lot in the suckatude department to really make Buffalo fans feel good about themselves when they are bullying and laughing at the Leafs misfortunes. We all know how the Leafs have been pretty dormant for most of our existence on earth. For the most part, they overspend and there’s a constant turnover with their rosters/front office. They are really the Dolans of Canada when you think about it. Lots of sizzle, but not enough steak with their moves. While the faces change, the results have mostly stayed the same for the Leafs. As for the Raptors, they have been a lot of meh and crap over the years. They have been better as of late, but their best years came with Vince Carter in the late 90s and early 2000s.