A lot is made of the lack of noise made at HSBC Arena during Sabres games. I feel I have a solution.
I am on the bandwagon labeled ‘appalled’ at the lack of energy the fan base puts out on a game-to-game basis. This problem is two-fold. Part of he responsibility lies with the game presentation department to produce an experience that will captivate the fan base during breaks in the action, there are times when you may say this is lacking. However, there are times when it is not. The other half (maybe even 70%) lies with the fans. Sure, the game presentation people could absolutely kill it and still get no response from the people in the seats. This is why I get frustrated at games, because of my fellow fan.
Aside from the blooper reel and some spotty music choices, I really don’t have an issue with the game presentation. Sometimes I feel like too many parts of commercial breaks are ‘for sale’. What I mean is that too often when there could be a piece played to fire up the crowd, there is a clip of Sabretooth pushing recycling or Paul Gaustad saying to go green. I sometimes wonder if less sponsors would allow for a more raucous atmosphere – to think some of the loudest cheers come for free t-shirts. The point is, the game presentation staff is not at fault for a stale atmosphere, perhaps they could push a little harder, but they certainly aren’t the culprits.
The true culprit is the fan. I am among the people who don’t stand up and shout for anything but a goal. In my defense, (and most fans) many of the games are hard to get behind at all. Still, it sure would be cool if there was a much louder and crazy arena at the foot of Washington 41 nights a year. Just look at the Bandits, those people are INSANE for the entire game, they never quit and it makes HSBC one of the toughest NLL road venues. It should be the same for the Sabres.
Maybe they need an in-game host. When I say in-game host I do not mean this, I also disagree with a buxom young lass or some kid you pulled from an Abercrombie frat party. I just want a high-energy guy who can really rev the engines of the collective fan base. He/she shouldn’t need to be a rah-rah guy, but someone like what the Bandits use. Hell, he doesn’t even go on camera, even better!
So that is one idea. Another one that I have is simply changing some of the decorations around the arena. Over the past few years the Sabres have begun to transform the concourses into actual concourses – so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. Now the small issue of locker room decoration and the appearance of the dreaded slug logo still is floating around. My beef is with the red wall that separates the 100 and 200 level.
Part of me really likes that wall. When I see pictures on ESPN or NHL.com I’ll catch a glimpse and think ‘oh cool, that was taken here’. However, after I visited Toronto, I saw a much more unique way to utilize that space.
The Leafs took old photos of fans from the Gardens and pasted them up, mural style, around the top of the lower bowl. It creates a neat effect, especially when there are fans in the building. I think the Sabres could pull a similar feat but by using fan pictures, past and present, and photos of former and current greats. In the end zone areas, where there is some extra space, they could put the new slogan (thanks to Mr. Ted Black) ‘Hockey Heaven’ a la the Hockeytown logo at center ice in Detroit. I plan on doing some (poor) Photoshop work in addition to a detailed post on this idea. If it turns out the way I envision it, it would be awesome.