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

Reflecting on the Sabres Summit

There is little doubt the Sabres Summit was a success. It served as a forum for Sabres bloggers to have their voice heard by the Sabres organization. Specifically, their voice was heard by team President Ted Black.

Of the topics I had pegged to bring up, a few were covered by my fellow bloggers, as I expected. However, I had two topics that I wanted to make sure I brought up. The first being the potential re-use for the empty Backstage Club/former Ira Ross Aerospace Museum. The second topic was about the potential return of the Frozen Four and re-implementing the Punch Imlach Hockey Showcase.

The space that was previously used by the Ira Ross Aerospace Museum is situated along the side of FNC, behind the Sabres Store and below the Harbor Club. While the arena renovations were being completed, this housed the Sabres gym equipment. Now it lies vacant, waiting for a new use.

Black noted that the space is 12,000 square feet, there is little space to utilize it as a restaurant due to the store and other neighboring rooms. However, he also pointed out that he has a secret plan for the space that he doesn’t yet wish to reveal. My hope is that his idea is for a Sabres Hall of Fame.

I was unfortunately unable to follow-up my original question with my thoughts on establishing a Hall of Fame in that space. Black also mentioned the terrible location for the entrance to that part of the building. Certainly an avenue for access through the arena could be established, particularly for an attraction like that. Black also mentioned that the idea of building vertically into the Harbor Club could be a possibility. It could also offer a secondary source of access.

Not to harp on the idea, as I have detailed most of my thoughts previously, but I think the potential is there to take advantage of the trajectory that Canalside is taking along with the potential connection of the harbor bridge in the near future.

One other idea I did mention with regards to Canalside was for the Sabres to be part of a project to build a Sabres-centric bar. Just like HockeyTown in Detroit, just with a bit more of Pegula’s or the organization’s influence. Continue reading