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Bid for Buffalo Sabres accepted

Nov. 20, 2002 at 5:15 PM

NEW YORK, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The bid from a group headed by Mark E. Hamister to purchase the financially troubled Buffalo Sabres will be accepted, the NHL announced Wednesday.

Terms were not disclosed. Hamister, who owns the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League, apparently outbid Tom Golisano, a Rochester billionaire who recently completed another unsuccessful campaign for New York governor.

"After narrowing the bid process, it was determined that the terms of the Hamister bid should be accepted," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We will work with Mr. Hamister to conclude the transaction as quickly as possible."

Bettman said a closing date likely would come in the first three months of 2003. The NHL's Board of Governors still must approve the sale.

The sale of the team was necessitated when owner John Rigas and two sons were indicted on fraud charges following the collapse of Adelphia Communications. The NHL has been supervising operations of the Sabres.

"Adelphia has been involved throughout this process," Bettman said. "We are anticipating their continued cooperation in completing the sale."

Bettman had said the NHL is committed to keeping the team in Buffalo. Last week, he visited Buffalo and said efforts to sell the Sabres were beginning to "accelerate."

The accepted bid and proposed sale comes during one of the low points in franchise history. In addition to the financial troubles, the Sabres are mired in a 12-game winless streak, tying a team record of 11 seasons ago.

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