Building on the Sabres’ Canadian exploration

The Sabres have officially begun their Canadian Bacon mission of an invasion of Ontario. The goal isn’t to litter, but to establish a greater footprint for the organization in the golden horseshoe.

Ted Black, Danny Gare, Jay McKee and Ville Leino all took a trip through Ft. Erie and St. Catharines  that included visits to schools, hockey clinics and, naturally, Tim Hortons. Good on the Sabres for seeing the comedy in having Leino serve up donuts much like he did last season (see what I did there). Social Media Sam deserves some credit for her Ricky Bobby “I’d love to sign your baby” Instagram caption as well.

All kidding aside, the Sabres have taken a wise approach here. Obviously there are a ton of fans in Ontario that are ticket holders. While most of them either sell their tickets to fans of other teams or simply root for the Leafs, the Sabres have a significant portion of their patrons in Ontario. The same goes for the Bills, the Galleria and Buffalo Niagara Airport and most of Western New York.

Pulling from Ontario would occur even if the Sabres (and Bills) didn’t bother marketing themselves. It is just how sports fans will operate. For fans in Fort Erie and St. Catharines who don’t have a pro team in their city, having the Bills and Sabres a hop and a skip down the Q is beyond convenient. While Toronto is the obvious first choice for many of these fans, Buffalo provides a natural fit for sports fans looking to affiliate with an NHL or NFL franchise.

From a business standpoint, cultivating this fanbase and maybe even building upon it is an easy approach for the Sabres. What has changed is the proactive approach the team has begun to show. This type of physical outreach shows that the Sabres don’t just respect the contingent of fans they have from Ontario, they want to grow that fanbase.

This relationship could potentially have a positive effect on the rest of the Western New York sports scene as well. Continue reading

Are Canadian ticket holders to blame for the quiet FNC?

Every Sabres-Leafs game is played in a hostile environment. That is a fact of life. Leafs fans can’t get tickets to their home games, there are seats readily available in Buffalo and they make the trip to enjoy a “road” game.

A portion of the Sabres season ticket base is from Ontario. So, a large portion of those seats are likely going to be claimed by Leaf fans three times a year. Add in the fans who are looking to get back into the black after buying Sabres season tickets, and there is an additional market for buyers. The secondary ticket market is also a viable option. Obviously there are avenues for Leaf fans to invade Buffalo.

What is interesting is the atmosphere that is created for these games. If last night’s contest wasn’t a 50/50 split, it was 60/40. As for which side had the edge, it is anyone’s guess. The back and forth chants between the fans created a playoff-like atmosphere that made an entertaining game even better.

The players responded to the fans and their play showed as much. Buffalo’s players reflected this in their postgame comments as well. Thomas Vanek’s quotes were practically calling out the fans for sitting on their hands every other night aside from yesterday and the Boston grudge match. He has a point. Continue reading