I am a big proponent for developing the city of Buffalo. I even touch on it in this space from time to time. Those of you who follow me on Twitter, or sit behind me at work, know that I have been dreaming up a grand vision for a practice/junior hockey venue near HSBC Arena.
After a little bit of Photoshop and Illustrator work I have a picture to go with my ramblings. Please excuse the polish of my work, I am quite the novice when it comes to both Photoshop and Illustrator. The pictures and overall vision can be found after the jump.
I gave this creation a name just so it looks a little less bare. I chose to call it the New Era Centre because the cap company is a large Buffalo-based corporation and the name flowed well off my tongue.
Basically this idea cropped up in my head because there are two enormous, barren surface lots in the “Cobblestone District” that don’t get very much use. It is a real shame because the remaining buildings in the District have a similar feel to the Distillery District in Toronto. I began thinking of things that could be put in their place to add some life and density to a neighborhood that is composed of about six buildings on one city block. This multi-purpose arena came to mind.
I made a few freehand sketches, which likely depict the arena better than these computer “renderings”. I did not take into account any scaling when I did this, it is only about the possibility of this kind of idea and what it may look like. I wanted to embrace the industrial background of the area while adding a modern look and feel, thus I came up with the curved glass foyer similar to what you see at the Buffalo-Niagara Airport. The side view, shown below, gives a better idea of where I was coming from. I put in the curved warehouse-type windows and kept the remainder of the building primarily brick in order to mimic the warehouse look. I think the lot that runs along Mississippi Street would be the perfect spot. You could then take the adjacent lot, build a multi-level garage on it and save (possibly even add) the spaces that you lost by building this arena.
The display windows on the side currently include my idea for a Hockey Heaven Bar and a display window for a Sabres Hall of Fame. These, of course are just two thoughts I had for what could occupy space on the ground floor.
My grand plan is this: a 2,500 to 3,500 seat arena that could be used for practices, youth and adult games and be the home arena for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. I also thought it may make a good home for the Canisius Golden Griffins Division I program as well. This size would allow the arena to have an intimate atmosphere while still being able to host notable events like NCAA or junior hockey games, future World Junior tournaments and even concerts and other shows. For comparison, Dwyer Arena holds just over 2,000 and it is not a wrap-around bowl. The Ft. Erie Kinsmen Arena holds just over 1,500 in a wrap-around style. This is a perfect size for the type of venue I am describing.
I think it would be wise to provide this type of facility for three reasons. 1. You could provide a stunning home facility for the Junior Sabres in hopes that it would boost them to be one of the top junior programs in the region. The same could be said for Canisius. The Griffs currently play at Buff State. Give them their own home and their students an easy way to get to the games (Metro Rail) and suddenly college hockey can be thriving in downtown Buffalo. 2. It would be a premier practice facility for the Sabres to utilize, thus taking wear and tear away from the HSBC Arena ice. 3. It would add a brand new attraction to the arena district that is a hop and a skip from the waterfront.
In addition to the arena itself I would add a few extra pieces to the puzzle. A proper office for the Junior Sabres, no matter how small would be wise, in addition to an adequate ticket office. Some concessions would be necessary, but due to the size you would not need too many. Locker room space for the Sabres and Junior Sabres would be a must in addition to four other rooms for additional games. If Canisius was to be part of this deal, then a locker facility for them as well. Due to the size of the seating you could build most of this under the bowl without comprimising too much space as there is no need for ground-level seating entrances.
My true pipe-dream exists with three main “cogs”, if you will. I think this would be a perfect home for either a Sabres Hall of Fame, a gigantic Sabres Store or a Hockey Heaven bar. Now, I think the large space on the Main Street side of HSBC is the perfect spot for a Sabres Hall of Fame. I mean a proper one with numerous exhibits, interactive displays and a place to enshrine the inductees. I also understand it is necessary to have a functioning retail store in HSBC for game nights. Lastly, I feel that a Hockey Heaven bar (think Hockeytown) would be better served as a stand alone business looking out onto the waterfront and HSBC.
However, the potential to have a patio bar (perhaps on one of the corners facing Mississippi St.) that can be accessed even if there aren’t games would add to the draw for this type of venue. Maybe that means they don’t build the true “Sabres bar” in this arena, but some facsimile of one.
I still stand by my assessment of the former Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum as the proper home for the Sabres Hall of Fame, but either location serves the purpose. It creates an additional, unique destination for people in downtown Buffalo. If there is a real restaurant (not Clinton’s Dish) there, even better.
These open spaces can be filled by just about anything, it doesn’t need to be a Hall of Fame, restaurant or giant Sabres Store. I just think a couple of street-level displays or entrances add some character to the building. Hell, it would be more attractive that a giant brick wall.
Feel free to throw comments and criticism at me. Even feel free to tell me I am the worst Illustrator and Photoshop user in WNY, I just wanted to finally put this idea out there and get the thoughts of Sabres Nation.