Dec. 11--Former President Bill Clinton was among the thousands taking in the Buffalo Sabres game Wednesday night in HSBC Arena, where he was a guest of Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano. G. Steven Pigeon, the Buffalo attorney and former Erie County Democratic chairman who is a Golisano adviser, said Clinton's second visit to a Sabres game stems from the close relationship he has forged with Golisano.
"They've developed a good friendship over the years," said Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn.
Golisano underwrote the Clinton Global Initiative last year and plans to again in 2009, he said, referring to the New York City meeting that coincides with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and develops solutions to world problems. Golisano has never revealed how much he has donated to the cause except to say it amounts to several million dollars.
The former president previously attended a Sabres game as Golisano's guest back in 2005 after appearing at a Democratic rally in the Buffalo Convention Center. This visit was planned to be much more laid back, Pigeon said.
"It's all very low key," Pigeon said. "It's social. Tom and the president have really hit it off and become friends."
A source close to the team said the two met to discuss Clinton's initiative, and Golisano hosted dinner for the former president in the arena's directors' suite before the game.
Clinton dropped by the locker rooms to meet players from both the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, sources said. He then took a seat next to Golisano in the owner's suite.
Guests included Pigeon and Gary D. Parenti, another political associate of Golisano; former tennis star Monica Seles, a good friend of Golisano; Niagara Falls attorney John P. Bartolomei; developer Hormoz Mansouri; former Buffalo Comptroller Anthony R. Nanula; and political consultant Jack O'Donnell.
Also invited to the dinner were Mayor Byron W. Brown, Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey, Niagara Falls City Council President Samuel Furscione, Quinn and Sabres chief operating officer Daniel J. DiPofi, as well as several members of the Golisano family.
News Staff Reporter Jay Rey contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org
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