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Pete Guelli hired as chief operating officer of Bills, NHL’s Sabres

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills and Sabres owner Terry Pegula filled both teams’ vacant chief operating officer positions on Tuesday by hiring Pete Guelli, who returns to his roots after spending the past five years as the New York Giants’ chief business officer.

The 59-year-old Guelli will oversee the business operations of both franchises at a time when the NFL’s Bills are building a new stadium and the NHL’s Sabres are launching renovations to their home arena. He’s from nearby Rochester, New York, and previously spent 10 years working his way up the Bills’ ranks to become their senior vice president of business operations in 2008 under late owner Ralph Wilson.

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, Guelli 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.

“It was hard not to be impressed by the experience and overall business acumen of Pete Guelli,” Pegula said in a statement announcing the hiring.

“He is a proven leader with tremendous skills and experience in the sports business landscape,” Pegula added. “With the upcoming changes on the way in both teams’ venues, we are happy to have Pete to help lead our teams.”

In Buffalo, he replaces John Roth, who was fired along with Bills general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo in October, because the two were in a romantic relationship. Roth had just taken over the COO position of both teams in July.

“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.”

Guelli broke in with the Bills in 1999 in helping oversee the franchise expanding its market by relocating its training camp to Rochester a year later.

In hiring Guelli, Pegula announced interim Bills COO Josh Dziurlikowski will take over as the Bills senior vice president of finance and business operations, and interim Sabres COO Rob Minter will take over the same VP role with the Sabres.

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