Brainstorming an addition to the Alumni Plaza

I took the opportunity to write out a number of thoughts I had regarding the exterior of First Niagara Center and the steps the Sabres could take to alter the exterior of their home.

It was a lengthy post that touched on a handful of topics that centered on the bland exterior of the building, the atrium and the visual and architectural relationship between FNC and HarborCenter. In the wake of that post, another idea came to fruition – via another talk over beers with a friend – and an alternative to the water feature in the Alumni Plaza was born.

Imagine this (only better) adorning the wall of the FNC parking garage. Ed note: I'm aware that's not the save I mention in the post.
Imagine this (only better) adorning the wall of the FNC parking garage. Ed note: I’m aware that’s not the save I mention in the post.

The water feature is nothing more than a green space buffer that softens the transition between the Alumni Plaza and the First Niagara Center parking ramp that opens onto Illinois Street. You can see some of that green space in this photo.

I’m of the opinion that the water garden is painfully dated and is bordering on becoming an eye sore simply because that portion of the plaza is so underused and the garden simply exists. What came of my conversation was an idea to better integrate the portion of the Alumni Plaza that sits behind the statue of the French Connection and the bridge between the ramp and arena.

With the assumption that at least one or two more Sabres statues will grace the Alumni Plaza in the near future (see: Hasek, Dominik), why not use that wall of the garage as part of the plaza itself? I’d like to see the wall of the parking ramp that is currently obscured by that garden turned into an interactive mural celebrating Sabres history. Continue reading

Hasek statue should follow the French Connection

Friday was supposed to be a truly impressive evening. Combined with the home opener for the Buffalo Sabres, the team would also unveil the centerpiece of the new alumni plaza with the French Connection Statue.

With the end of the lockout nowhere in sight, the home opener has been cancelled. But the statue unveiling will go through as planned and it should still serve as a wonderful way to honor three of the franchise’s greatest players.

The likely pose for the future statue of Hasek.

From the very brief and obstructed view I got of the statue, it looks impressive. All three players are prominently featured and the layout should provide a unique view from just about any angle. Depending how the structure will be lit, I expect that the statue will be very impressive at night.

The next step will be identifying who else will join the French Connection in the plaza. Thanks to this week’s news, the next addition should be Dominik Hasek.  Continue reading

Sabres to unveil Alumni Plaza

In just over three months, Terry Pegula has tossed the Sabres hat in the ring on the Webster Block, donated money to finish landscaping work at Canalside and will now contribute to an alumni plaza outside of First Niagara Center.

This tweet from WGRZ kicked things off prior to the official announcement that a press conference will be held tomorrow to unveil the plans for a full alumni plaza.

This is something I had given thought to back in the winter after the second blog summit. In addition to paying tribute to the team’s most famous trio, I would suspect there will be a statue for each of the franchise’s retired numbers. There will certainly be space to honor the Knox family and those who helped bring the Sabres to buffalo.

The Sabres are in a unique position because of the design of the arena. The inclusion of the massive public plaza has not only provided space to throw big gameday parties, it will also provide more than enough space for a number of different statues.

Off the top of my head I can count the French Connection, Knox brother, Pat LaFontaine, Danny Gare, Tim Horton and Dominik Hasek as those who will have statues within the next few years. I would venture a guess that RJ and Ted Darling will each get their own down the line as well.

UPDATE: The Sabres press conference detailed a number of intricate details for the project. This includes the picture the statue will be based upon and the inclusion of every player ever to don a Sabres sweater. The additional players will be included on plagues on the brick pillars already in place.

It would seem to me that the plan only includes space for the French Connection statue at this point. Assuming the statue will be the focal point in front of the raised walkway, there will be plenty of room in the rest of the plaza for additional statutes, should the organization choose to build them.

The potential of this idea goes so far beyond anything else done by any other team simply because of the space afforded to the franchise in the plaza. Certainly tomorrow’s announcement will provide the rest of the details and perhaps some super cool, Tielman-proof renderings.

Terry Pegula is certainly proving that he could become a driving force in developing the area around FNC in the coming years. It is something the city of Buffalo has been without for a long time.

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