In addition to his leading role with the Bandits, Russ Brandon is president and alternate governor of the Buffalo Sabres, the managing partner and president of the Buffalo Bills, and president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. In working with Pegula Sports and Entertainment to create strong synergies between the Bills and Sabres, he oversees the business operations for both teams and represents ownership interests locally, regionally and with the National Hockey League and National Football League.
Additionally, Brandon serves as President of the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Before being named president of the Sabres, Brandon played a key role in facilitating the sale of the Buffalo Bills from the Wilson family to the Pegula family and aiding the Pegulas as they transitioned into their roles as the owners of an NFL franchise. His excellent leadership skills and knowledge of the league were invaluable as he directed the Bills organization in the days that followed with the passing of founding owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. to the announcement of Terry and Kim Pegula as the new owners. Brandon also played an integral role in negotiating a new stadium lease agreement between the Bills, the State of New York and Erie County to keep the franchise in Western New York for the foreseeable future as the three entities signed a MOU in late December of 2012 that included a renovations package to enhance the fans’ game day experience at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Brandon’s abilities are highly respected on the local level and national scale as well as within the league. A testament to his talents lies in the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the spring of 2011 appointed him to the NFL’s Business Ventures Committee, which is responsible for the oversight of various businesses of the league, including consumer products, sponsorship and marketing. In May of 2014, Brandon was appointed to the league’s Draft committee, which analyzes when and where to hold the Draft each year. In 2010, Brandon was named chief executive officer for his lead role at One Bills Drive before founding owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. entrusted him as President and CEO in 2013. In directing the Bills’ day-to-day operations as the chief operating officer from 2008-2009, Brandon’s reach extended from working on the Draft and free agency to leading an effort to improve the Bills game-day experience for all fans. During that two-year span, Brandon led the organization to its only back-to-back years of 55,000-plus season ticket sales while recording what was then the second-highest total in team history in 2008 and the third highest figure in 2009, both contributing greatly to the viability of the franchise.
Brandon previously served as the team’s executive vice president of business operations in 2006-2007, overseeing the team’s vision and execution of all business-related endeavors. In that role he developed a strong base of strategic business and community partners. From January of 1999 through January 2006, Brandon served as the team’s vice president of business development and marketing. He and his staff have been credited with the development of the team as a regional franchise and forming strategic alliances with key business partners. Brandon’s success in the sports business field has been recognized with numerous awards and in 2001 he was the recipient of Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award. In the spring of 2014 he was the recipient of the Canisius College Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award and was presented with the Excellence in Management Award from St. John Fisher College’s School of Business in the spring of 2013. Additionally, he has participated in the prestigious NFL Business Symposium at Stanford University. In 1999, Brandon and his staff finalized the foundation of the regionalization plan by relocating Buffalo Bills Training Camp to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York. Many consider the Bills to be the elite model for NFL training camps, prompting Brandon to extend the partnership with the school in the spring of 2012 to keep the team at St. John Fisher College for the foreseeable future.
Brandon joined the Bills in November of 1997 as executive director of business development and marketing after earning a World Series ring as a member of the Florida Marlins front office. He began his sports business career as a member of the Rochester Red Wings (then Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) while serving in many capacities, including assistant general manager, and in 2013 Brandon was inducted into the Red Wings’ Frontier Field Walk of Fame, a walkway featuring the names of elite figures in Rochester’s sports history. A native of East Syracuse, New York, Brandon is also actively involved in regional initiatives.
He is a member of the Advisory Board for the David Falk School of Sport at Syracuse University and the Board of Trustees at St. John Fisher College, and serves on the board of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the New York State Troopers Signal 30 Benefit Fund and a member of the New York Bulls Initiative Advisory Board for the University at Buffalo. Brandon was a four-year letterman in baseball and football at St. John Fisher College and graduated with a degree in communications. He was inducted into his alma mater’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He and his wife Amy have three children, sons RJ and Jack, and daughter, Grace. They reside in Williamsville, New York.