The Terry Pegula era has been greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. I don’t blame anyone for it either. He, and Ted Black, have said all the right things and have made all the right moves thus far. They have added numerous facets to the in-arena and home viewing experience.
Many of the improvements have come from the Sabres Suggestion Box. One suggestion that has been addressed by one (or more) fans is to do something with the red wall that lines the 100 level at HSBC Arena. This is something that has crossed my mind before and cropped back up when the suggestion box debuted.
My idea is to add some art to the wall. I first thought of this when I caught a game at Air Canada Centre. The ACC has put a mural of old pictures around their wall. The pictures are made up of old pictures of fans from Maple Leaf Gardens. This adds a very cool aspect to the in-arena experience there. That is where the genesis of my idea was born.
As you can see above, I want to borrow from the Leafs and include some pictures of the fans in this plan. I also hope that the Sabres fully adopt Ted Black’s slogan (if you will) for the Sabres “Hockey Heaven”. I don’t love the “City of Hockey” slogan, basically because it doesn’t have the same flow as “Hockeytown” or Black’s “Hockey Heaven” does. So, I think the end of the arena where the Sabres shoot twice would be a good place for this. You can use the team’s catchphrase and fan photos in part of the 100 level that doesn’t exactly lend itself to the other half of my plan.
The second half is to use the remainder of the 100 level as a ring of honor. I have heard a lot of fans complain that the Sabres have retired too many numbers already. I don’t necessarily agree with that, although I’m not sure Danny Gare or Pat LaFontaine are too worthy of the distinction. Nevertheless, I think Dominik Hasek will likely be the last one for a long while. The Sabres Hall of Fame is a great way to celebrate the alumni and a ring of honor would be a great way to show off the rich history of the Sabres. It also would keep the organization from having to retire too many numbers. The above and below pictures show how this could be executed.
I meant to write this earlier, but please forgive my Photoshop skills. I have a limited skill set and utilized what I could to put this together. I chose to use an off white/vintage white for the wall. A dark color would make it difficult for goalies to track the puck and the white also lends itself well as a backdrop.
I also added Dominik Hasek and Gilbert Perreault in this because there are six spots throughout the 100 level that have larger wall areas outside of the entry ways. I would use these spots to highlight a few special players (up to the team of course) from their history to add more color and continue the trend from the Hockey Heaven portion of the ring. They would still be from the Hall of Fame, or retired numbers, but perhaps they’re better to highlight. Hasek and Perreault came to mind due to the impact they had on the ice.
I didn’t use any rhyme or reason in putting names up around the ring. Being that this is an example I just wanted to get an idea of what it might look like. There are a whole host of ways you could do it, especially with the guys like Jim Kelley, Milt Ellis etc. It may be better to use the ring to honor players specifically and to add a bit of space for future entrants. Lastly, I moved the section numbers to a location above the entry way. Leaving them in their current location would clutter the ring of honor a bit too much for my liking. The way I structured it was to put the number to the section to the right (facing the entrance). It would be just as easy to use an arrow (see Scotiabank Place) or to place section numbers on either side of the exit signs above the entrance.
There are a whole host of ways the team could choose to change the way the 100 level looks. This is just one idea to touch on the Sabres’ rich history while making HSBC Arena a little more colorful. Feel free to leave comments and criticism below, even if you just want to tell me I need a tutorial in Photoshop.