The Associated Press reported today that Pegula Sports and Entertainment has relinquished ownership of the only privately owned women’s hockey team in North America, the National Women’s Hockey League’s Buffalo Beauts.
The news comes one week after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceased operations, and six days after more than 200 professional women’s hockey players announced they would boycott the season rather than play in the NWHL, which is the sole league currently.
The decision to relinquish control may not come as a complete surprise. When the #ForTheGame statement was made, the Beauts were the only team to have had 100 percent of the players participate in the movement. It would have been nearly impossible for Buffalo to field a team without any of its returning roster.
The NWHL will regain the rights to the Beauts, but the announcement indicates that the league will have to renegotiate fees related with running the team out of the PSE-owned HarborCenter.
The NWHL has stated it intends to move forward with the 2019-20 season, however, it appears that it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. The Buffalo Beauts had become the high-water mark for women’s sports once PSE acquired the team. The marketing machine behind One Buffalo gave the team superior marketing, and the organization provided unrivaled facilities and amenities for the players and staff. It is certainly disappointing to see that come to an end.
OFFICIAL STATEMENTS FROM PSE AND THE NWHL:
“Our main goal has always been fostering the growth of women’s hockey across all ages,” said Kim Pegula, President and CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. “We thank our Beauts players, staff, and fans for their support this past season. We will continue to look for ways to successfully grow the women’s game.”
”The NWHL thanks Pegula Sports and Entertainment for their stewardship of the Beauts during the last two seasons,” said NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan. “We have a deep appreciation for the remarkable, ongoing commitment of the organization to advance the sport of hockey at all levels.”
Update: 05/08 3:30 pm
Former Beauts goaltender Shannon Szabados tweeted:
Don’t worry guys, us players will be around still! Maybe in a different look but Lucy and all our fans will still have an opportunity to watch us train, compete and interact with us. We wont leave our fans hanging
Don’t worry guys, us players will be around still! Maybe in a different look but Lucy and all our fans will still have an opportunity to watch us train, compete and interact with us. We wont leave our fans hanging #ForTheGame— Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) May 8, 2019
In addition, AP writer John Wawrow indicated Szabados and other former Beauts players intend to continue to train in Buffalo