Today is a great day for Western New York hockey and the city of Buffalo.
I’m hitting pause on my Buffalo Sabres preview series to pass along my feelings on the excellent news from City Hall today.
The City of Buffalo has chosen the Sabres and Terry Pegula’s bid for the Webster block across the street from the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo, N.Y. The new HARBORCenter development will begin construction in February and will tout, according to the Buffalo News, a two pad ice rink, a 200-room hotel, 965 parking spaces, a sports bar, retail outlets and a “destination” Tim Hortons.
Pegulaville just got bigger.
Early reports say that the two pad ice rink will be used primarily for youth hockey, and would logically become the new home of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, who are currently playing out of a town-sponsored rink in West Seneca, N.Y. This is great news for the region’s hockey as more and more kids will feel the allure of playing in the shadow of the First Niagara Center.
The hotel will be a welcome addition for the area as well, becoming a compliment to the Marriott currently under construction in the old Donavon Building a block away from the arena. The project will also be a welcome addition to the Canalside development currently under way as well.
This proposal allows Buffalo to continue along the path of rebranding and rebuilding. The Sabres have created a city within a city, giving the Canal area another shot in the arm. This will hopefully be a jumping block for other development around the arena and other areas of the city as well.
The Sabres’ proposal beat out one by former New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, which also called for retail spaces and a hotel, but had office space and apartments in place of the ice rink.
The new HARBORCenter will allow for visitors all year round, keeping the public’s eye on the Sabres and First Niagara Center for all 12 months. So, not only will this be a boon to the city, but to the Sabres organization as well.
Say what you will about what has and has not happened with the Sabres since Pegula took the reins last February, the man has made a difference for Buffalo. This project coupled with the other projects in and around the arena give his team’s office the premier spot in the city.
In 2014 when the first puck drops in the new ice rink facility, the Buffalo area will only become that much more important to USA Hockey and it’s future.