The Instigator Podcast 2.6 – Receptive Audiences

Eric and I got together for another Instigator Podcast. We discussed the growing dissention with fans at FNC and their generally poor attitude towards the team they’re cheering for. We also play plus minus and discuss many of the issues surrounding the team at this time.

The Instigator Podcast 1.7 – Fuel and Engage

In the seventh edition of The Instigator Podcast, Eric and I take a look at where things could head with regards to amping up the fans and creating a raucous atmosphere similar to that of the MTS Centre.

As always, comments and criticism are welcome on Twitter.

Observations from the opener, off the ice

Friday’s home opener was the first chance the fans had to see all of the First Niagara Center renovations first-hand. It was the first night the new-look team played on home ice without prospects sprinkled into the lineup. It was also the first night the Sabres opened up the F’N Center press box to the blogging community.

The awesome new signage on the video board is visible here, along with the questionable sponsor banners in the rafters.

It is just another one of those things the Sabres organization continues to do right. The PR staff was good enough to accommodate myself – along with a pair of other Sabres bloggers – with a press credential for the game. In addition to my game story, I wanted to reflect on a few other things I noticed during the home opener: Continue reading

Game presentaion in the Pegula era, will it change?

The opportunity is there for the F’N Center to be loud this season.

Amid the whirlwind offseason at One Seymour H Knox III Plaza, a great deal of changes were made to the cosmetics within the First Niagara Center. There are plenty of new features that greet the fans when they enter the building for the home opener. (Note, this was lost in the original post, my apologies).

Personally, I’m interested to see what changes, if any, have been made to the game presentation for the regular season. With a new attitude surrounding the team, I am wondering if the game presentaion will reflect a more aggressive attitude as well.  Some have stronger opinions on this than others, but I feel that the overall atmosphere in the First Niagara Center has been somewhat dull in recent years.

The fans are due just as much guilt – or perhaps more – as the arena staff. Ted Black said it right when he described the job as one where nearly 51% of the people watching will be unhappy with what you’re doing. There is no right answer for the Sabres game presentation staff, which is an unfortunate situation to be in. Even if they come and absolutely kill it this season, a major portion of the fans won’t be happy. It isn’t a fair position and I wish them all the luck in the world getting things right.

However, the one thing I hope has changed is the overall attitude of the show the fans witness. The game is paramount to anything else going on around it. Therefore the on-ice product is the main factor in stimulating the fans. Based on the changes to the roster, the Sabres should have little trouble playing entertaining hockey games.

For much of last season the Sabres were pretty lousy, that didn’t help one bit. What made matters worse was the relatively stale atmosphere within the arena. I feel the biggest contributor to that was every stoppage in play was filled with deflating ads and videos. Rather than having the opportunity to create a hostile atmosphere, nearly every second of time outside of the game is being sold.

If there are less Aspen Dental commercials – and more compilations of goals, saves or Pat Kaleta steamrolling people set to hard, edgy music – the fans will be riled up and they will create a little more noise. For the record, more noise = better gameday experience. Continue reading

F’N Center upgrades and more

As the offseason began, the construction crews moved into the First Niagara Center. Now that the summer has come to a close there are plenty of new features the soak in at One Seymour H Knox III Plaza.

No more Slugs on the videoboard and a new paintjob are among the numerous renovations made to the F'N Center.

Terry Pegula and company entered the offseason hoping to start the transformation of Buffalo into Hockey Heaven. It all started with the renovations of the Sabres locker room, plus an overhaul of the coaching staff’s offices and visitors locker space as well.

The locker room, expected to be the class of the NHL, is all but finished. An overhaul of the concessions and the de-Slugging of the entire arena was completed some time ago. The Sabres put gobs of money into the ice equipment, with laser beam Zambonis and dehumidification (is that a word) equipment. There are also plans to install a 90-foot video board on the outside of the arena, as well.

I’m certainly missing a handful of additional renovations and upgrades that will make the overall experience of the F’N Center – both on the ice and in the stands – better for everyone involved. Continue reading

Effin’ A Cotton, effin’ a

In a summer of major changes for the Sabres organization one more cosmetic one will occur today. First Niagara will acquire the naming rights to HSBC Arena.

This is a move I suspected would occur in the near future, I just didn’t think it would happen this soon. As First Niagara has continued to grow in recent years I began to wonder if they would look into some sort of branding with the Sabres, Bisons or the Bills. When HSBC sold their retail branches to First Niagara I assumed a name change for the Arena was inevitable. However, all news from the three parties involved appeared to be in the contrary.

Now there is the opportunity for the Arena to be called the First Niagara Arena – or FNA (effin’ a). UPDATE: It appears the name will be the First Niagara Center.

With the additional renovations being made to the interior of the Arena and the locker room, a name change will add that much more of a new look for the new regime. Based on the look of the First Niagara logo, it will look much better on the exterior (and interior signage) of the building. I do wonder if they will utilize the neon waves that were once prevalent on the main exterior sign back in the 90s.

Aside from a trade, it seems as if the next biggest change will come with a new sign on the front of the Arena.