BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Ron LaQuire, who played a leading role in negotiating a new $1.54 billion stadium deal with Buffalo, will step down as Bills chief executive, team owner Terry Pegula announced Wednesday.
Pegula said the teams had parted ways, citing a months-long assessment of the business side of the teams in determining the need to “restructure and improve.” Mr. Pegula thanked Mr. Laquia for his years of hard work and dedication and wished him the best of luck.
In making this change, Pegula will assume the role of team president previously held by his wife. Kim Pegula, who has been out of the team for the past 13 months, has gone into cardiac arrest and has serious language and memory problems.
As part of the restructuring, Pegula announced that John Roth will assume the role of Executive Vice President and COO of Raccuia. Ross, who will now split duties between the Bills and the Pegura-owned Buffalo Sabers, has been the NHL team’s COO since joining in January.
Laquia did not respond to voice or text messages left by the Associated Press.
Laquia’s departure is seen as a surprise as he effectively oversaw the day-to-day operations of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, where he has worked since 2017. After Kim Pegula fell ill, he became a key figure in stadium negotiations.
It was just six weeks ago that Raquia took the stage with Terry Pegula and New York Gov. The plan includes $850 million in public funding and the stadium is expected to open in time for the 2026 season.
The contract framework was conditionally approved in March 2022, but the bill, state and county representatives spent much of the next year finalizing details, including a 30-year lease that would essentially keep the Buffalo franchise long-term.
It’s unclear what Pegula said the team’s business structure needed to revamp or improve. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit much of North America’s sporting world, but the Bills have enjoyed success and popularity, including winning three consecutive AFC East titles.
As part of the move to the new ballpark, the Bills will partner with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Legend, co-owner of the New York Yankees, to oversee the team’s introduction of seat-ticketing licenses and provide food and beverage services. The switch to Legends Hospitality ends a longstanding partnership between the Bills and Buffalo-based Delaware North.
Ross, who has spent 24 years as an investor and portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, will oversee the team’s ticket sales, business development, media and content divisions.
In a related promotion, Bills announced that General Counsel Kathryn D’Angelo has added the title of senior vice president of operations. Josh Julikowski, vice president of finance, will assume the role of senior vice president of finance and operations.
The Bills also hired Penny Semmair, senior associate athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh, as vice president of stadium relations.
“We have a tremendous amount of confidence in this Board of Trustees that we have built,” Pegula said. “Over the years, I have developed a high level of trust and a strong working relationship with John, Kathryn and Josh, and I look forward to their continued successful leadership of our business operations.”
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John Wallow, Associated Press