BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Ron Raccuia, who played the lead role in negotiating Buffalo’s new $1.54 billion stadium deal, is out as the Bills’ top executive, team owner Terry Pegula announced on Wednesday.
In saying the sides had parted ways, Pegula cited a monthslong evaluation of the team’s business side in determining a need to “revamp and improve our structure.” Pegula thanked Raccuia for his many years of hard work and dedication and wished him the best of luck.
In making the change, Pegula is taking over the role of team president, which was previously held by his wife. Kim Pegula, who has been away from the team for the past 13 months, is dealing with significant language and memory issues after going into cardiac arrest.
As part of the shakeup, Pegula announced John Roth will assume Raccuia’s titles as executive vice president and COO. Roth will now split his duties between the Bills and the Pegula-owned Buffalo Sabres, where he has served as the NHL team’s COO after being hired in January.
Raccuia did not return voice and text messages left by The Associated Press.
Raccuia’s departure is considered a surprise after he essentially oversaw the daily operations of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, where he had worked since 2017. He took over as the point person on stadium negotiations after Kim Pegula fell ill.
It was only six weeks ago when Raccuia shared the stage with Terry Pegula and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Bills’ new stadium, which is being built across the street from the team’s existing home. The plan includes $850 million in public money, and the stadium is set to open in time for the 2026 season.
Though the framework of the deal was conditionally approved in March 2022, the Bills, state and county representatives spent much of the following year finalizing the details, including a 30-year lease that essentially preserves the franchise in Buffalo for the long term.
It’s unclear what Pegula referred to as needing to be revamped and improved upon in the team’s business structure. Though the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to much of the North American sports landscape, the Bills have enjoyed a run of success and heightened popularity in winning three straight AFC East titles.
As part of the shift to the new stadium, the Bills have partnered with Legends — a company co-owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the New York Yankees — to oversee the team’s introduction of seat ticketing licenses as well as provide food and beverage services. The switch to Legends Hospitality ends the Bills’ long-standing partnership with Buffalo-based Delaware North.
Roth, who previously spent 24 years as an investor and portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, will oversee the team’s ticketing, business development, and media and content departments.
In related promotions, the Bills announced general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo has added the title of senior vice president of business administration; and vice president of finance Josh Dziurlikowski will now hold the title of senior VP of finance and business administration.
The Bills also hired University of Pittsburgh senior associate athletic director Penny Semaia to serve as VP of stadium relations.
“We have a tremendous among of confidence in this management committee we have constructed,” Pegula said. “I have had a high level of trust and strong working relationship with John, Kathryn and Josh over the years, and expect them each to successfully continue to lead our business operations in the years to come.”
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