Using HARBORcenter’s profile to attract college hockey’s best

Last week, the Sabres and Canisius confirmed what many hockey fans in Buffalo had long assumed; the Golden Griffins will call HARBORcenter home starting in the 2014-15 season.

With the Griffs set to become the primary tenant at Terry Pegula’s newest contribution to downtown Buffalo, the ripple effects on hockey at the local and national level should be seen sooner rather than later.

The 1,800 seat facility will most definitely help the Sabres draw attention for such events like the All-Star Game, World Junior Championships and perhaps even the Frozen Four. The lodging, ice availability and attraction of the $172 million facility should bolster the resume for the Sabres and First Niagara Center. Not to mention the positive returns the Golden Griffins will enjoy in terms of exposure and on the recruiting trail.

However, there is one road that I’m still waiting for the Griffs, Sabres and most importantly, Terry Pegula to explore. The creation of a yearly tournament, jointly hosted by the Sabres and Canisius as a way to showcase the program, First Niagara Center as well as HARBORcenter. In some ways it would be a recreation of the Punch Imlach Invitational that was ran in the early 2000s, but I’d like to see things improved in the future. Continue reading

Pegula Ice Arena progressing towards completion

This is a special guest submission from Kyle Rossi who runs the blog Thank You Terry. His blog is all about Penn State hockey – both club and NCAA – and is full of phenomenal information. I highly recommend reading it on a regular basis. Kyle was kind enough to offer some insight to the progress being made on the Pegula Ice Arena down in State College. Given the Sabres recent victory regarding the Webster Block, I thought there would be no one better to provide some insight on the scope of a Pegula funded project such as the PIA or the HARBORcenter. Enjoy.

Hey Sabres fans! My name is Kyle Rossi, and I write Thank You Terry, a blog covering the soon-to-be four hockey teams representing Penn State (men’s and women’s NCAA, men’s and women’s ACHA). As I’m sure you know, you and I both share a debt of gratitude to one rather wealthy man: Terry Pegula.

The rendering of what the finished Pegula Ice Arena will look like.

Our stories are actually somewhat parallel. While Buffalo was wandering through a purgatory characterized by an always-competitive team that never saw a free agent it couldn’t lose (or a scouting department it couldn’t slash) and therefore couldn’t take the final couple of steps, Penn State was dealing with its own sort of limbo. Our non-varsity teams, known as the Icers and Lady Icers, had been considered candidates to make the jump to the big time, NCAA Division I, for decades – if only the school could find some money for a DI-caliber hockey arena. Despite PSU’s glut of success in the ACHA (including seven national championships), the program’s rabid supporters were always just one “hey, when are you guys going DI?” from an outsider away from a feeling of hopelessness.

Suddenly, in swoops this billionaire nobody had ever heard of to write large checks and save the day. In the Sabres’ case, I suppose he wasn’t a complete unknown, but there still had to be a “wait…this guy’s a Sabres fan…and he wants to buy the team?!?” moment for you guys.

Anyway, Chris invited me to write this post to update you on the progress of something possibly of interest of you, the arena bearing Pegula’s name on Penn State’s campus.

You might be familiar with some of the widely-reported basics. There will be two NHL-sized sheets, one in what’s being called the Community Rink, which will have 300 seats, the other in the main arena, which will seat 6,000. Five thousand of those seats will be arranged in a single-level horseshoe, with a ring of suites above the open concourse that will be at the top of the “regular person” seating. The final thousand seats will be the student section, to be located behind the net Penn State will attack twice. It will be as steep as code allows, helping to meet the one major directive Pegula has given on the project, that the building “sound like a hockey game inside of a garbage can” on game days.

“It should sound like a hockey game inside a garbage can.” Terry Pegula

The price tag – $89 million – is absolutely staggering for a college hockey facility of its size. For context on that, one only needs to consider some of the venues toured by a Penn State contingent (including Pegula) in 2010 to generate design ideas. Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena, which opened last season, cost about $50 million. Miami’s Goggin Ice Center cost $35 million (in 2006). Minnesota-Duluth’s AMSOIL Arena opened in late 2010 at a cost of $38 million, while RIT’s proposed Gene Polisseni Center, the most likely candidate to replace the Pegula Ice Arena as the newest in college hockey, is estimated to cost around $35 million. Basically, if Penn State gets anything approaching dollar-for-dollar value on this project, it will instantly become the crown jewel of college hockey. Continue reading