Bills, Sabres hire Pete Guelli as chief operating officer

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Pete Guelli, a Rochester native with more than 25 years of experience working in professional sports, has been hired as chief operating officer for the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, the organizations jointly announced Tuesday.

Josh Dziurlikowski, who had been serving as interim COO of the Bills since the October firing of John Roth, will move into a senior vice president of finance and business operations role, while Sabres interim COO Rob Minter was named vice president of business operations.

“I’d first like to thank Josh and Rob for their outstanding work and leadership as interim COOs,” owner Terry Pegula said in a news release. “It was a challenging transition and period for each of them and we are fortunate to be able to retain them in other leadership roles within each organization.”

The 59-year-old Guelli will oversee the business operations of both franchises at a time the Bills are building a new stadium and the Sabres are launching renovations to their home arena.

“I know the importance of these franchises to the market, and understand the responsibility that comes with that role,” Guelli said. “I am looking forward to getting to work and becoming part of the community again.”

A graduate of Aquinas Institute and SUNY Brockport, most recently spent five years as chief business officer of the New York Giants, and prior to that chief operating officer for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. He worked for the Bills from 1998-2009, helping to oversee the team’s expansion into the Rochester market by moving training camp to St. John Fisher College.

Pegula said, “It was hard not to be impressed with the experience and overall business acumen of Pete Guelli. The New York market is the largest in our country and highly competitive and he did an outstanding job on all levels of their business operation.”

“His work in helping turn around the Charlotte Hornets franchise in the NBA was remarkable,” Pegula said. “He is a proven leader with tremendous skills and experience in the sports business landscape. With the upcoming changes on the way in both team’s venues, we are happy to have Pete to help lead our teams.”

Guelli left the Bills in 2009 to work for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, and was part of the transition management team when Michael Jordan purchased the franchise a year later and eventually renamed them the Hornets. In Charlotte, Guelli eventually became the team’s COO and was credited for helping revitalize the sagging franchise, which included securing the Hornets television rights deal and overseeing renovations of the team’s arena.

With the Giants, he revamped the team’s business operations, led efforts to sign former quarterback Eli Manning to a role with the franchise and is currently serving on the NFL’s team presidents business optimization committee.

The Associated Press contributed.

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