HSBC Arena, BuffaloSabres
The HSBC Arena, known as the Marine Midland Arena until March 1997 when the Marine Midland Bank was taken over by HSBC Bank USA and the name of the arena changed consequently, has been the home of the Buffalo Sabres since it opened itīs doors on September 21st 1996.
I myself havenīt witnessed a live-game of the Buffalo Sabres so far (well, on the road at Madison Square Garden when Mike Richter and Dominik Hasek combined for more than 80 saves in a great 1:1 tie where Wayne Gretzky alone could have scored 5 goals but ended up empty, but not in Buffalo) but travelled around Lake Erie in the summer of 2001 where I also stopped in Buffalo for some sightseeing. Part of my rather quick tour through the city was a stop at HSBC Arena where I basically got a short but interesting private arena-tour. I can only congratulate and thank the Buffalo Sabres office-staff for this, besides the Cologne Sharks no other team was as friendly when it came to their home-arena and printed materials or an inside-tour. Actually the pole position clearly belongs to the Sabres here by personal comparison....
Before the team moved to the HSBC arena all games were played at the old Buffalo Auditorium which is located just along the parking lot from the new facility. As I was told the old arena might have been a lot less comfortable than the new arena but was a very loud place to enjoy hockey by comparison to the new arena. I guess just as in most other cities the atmosphere of the older and smaller arenas couldnīt be transferred into the new buildings. High ceilings and wide, comfortable seats probably cost a couple of decibels no matter how good the intentions are.
With a seating-capacity of 18.595 the HSBC Arena is more or less todayīs standard-sized NHL Arena. The 80 suites inside the arena might be a bit less than in many other arenas but Buffalo with just 330.000 inhabitants canīt measure itself with Chicago, Toronto or New York when it comes to corporate support so I guess that the 80 suites are sufficient in number.
The eight-sided jumbotron is definetly one of the better jumbotrons around the NHL. I still donīt know why you can only find six-sided or even four-sided jumbotrons in some new buildings but I guess many new arenas end up costing a lot more than one expected at first and so some last-minute decisions have to be made in order to shave a couple of dollars of the complete bill. The current jumbotron is also already the 2nd at HSBC Arena. A couple of years ago -- I canīt really recall which season it was -- the old jumbotron decided that it gets kind of boring to be right below the ceiling all day and night and so the jumbotron decided to put itself right on the ice. Of course it was not meant to do this and a game between the Sabres and Boston Bruins had to be cancelled due to the fact that parts of the jumbotron where scattered all around the ice-surface which itself remained more or less intact. I guess they should put some kind of sign on all jumbotrons telling the poor jumbotrons that falling down from the ceiling might harm their structure, they do the same for humans and cigarettes too and I really think that jumbotrons are discriminated against here.
Inside the arena there is a whole level of club-seats between the lower and the upper level. Seats here are the most expensive in the whole arena and cost about 75 dollars a game when you own a season-ticket. I donīt know wether club-seats are also sold as single-game-tickets but for all club-level-spectators there is a seperate restaurant inside the arena and reserved parking in a garage attached to the main building.
If you donīt have a club-level-ticket and a chance to get into the Harbour Club (restaurant) at games of the Sabres there is always the Pepsi Headlines Bar left which is a sports bar displays and other features telling the history of amatuer and professional sports in Buffalo. If youīre so carried away by all the Sabres Fans and the atmosphere at the HSBC arena you will also be delighted to find the Team Store right next to the main entrance where you can find Sabres-gear on more than 5.000 square feet which makes this one of the largest in-arena merchandise stores in the NHL.
The construction-costs of the arena were suprisingly low at only 127.5 million us-dollars. The arena itself is definetly a beautiful building and I think the low overall cost is probably due to the fact that real estate runs a lot cheaper at the harbour front of Buffalo than in downtown Toronto or Chicago for that matter.
Tipps vor visitors
I myself have never been at a game at HSBC Arena so I wonīt make any statements here concerning the atmosphere, the waiting-lines at the restrooms between periods or any matter of that kind.
What I can state by regular studies of NHL-boxscores is that attendance-figures in Buffalo have consistently been very good considering the fact that Buffalo is one of the smallest NHL-markets with a population of only 330.000. Supposingly sports-fans in Buffalo havenīt lost the faith and still believe that one day a team from there city will win a national championship. So far the Buffalo Bills, the local NFL-franchise, has made 4 trips to the Super Bowl and lost all games while the Buffalo Sabres advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 1999 where they were downed by the Dallas Stars in a great series (as far as I am concerned the most entertaining since I started watching the NHL in 1995). Buffalo Sabres-fans will probably argue forever that the Cup-clinching goal in the third overtime of Game 6 that gave the Stars their fourth win of the series and the Stanley Cup should have been overruled because Brett Hull had a foot in the crease but I guess nobody had the guts to take the goal back when the whole Stars-team was already jumping up and down the ice and all equipment was scattered through the whole area. I am still glad that the Stars won the series but would have prefered it if Brett had put his foot anywhere else.
Tickets are rather cheap by NHL-standards. The top-tickets sell for up to 80 dollars while there are also tons of cheaper seats as low as 20 dollars in the upper bowl. At least this is an advantage of an NHL-franchise in a small market, the team canīt milk itīs fans as the Toronto Maple Leafs do by comparison where you can only get a hand on tickets once a season and have to invest a whole monthīs payment for a couple of seats. For Canadiens living across the border to Buffalo there are also a couple of "Canadian at par"-nights per year where you can purchase tickets at face value with canadien dollars instead of us-dollars. For fans not directly from the area or tourists planning to end up in Buffalo tickets can be ordered in advance at Tickets.com.
There are also no obstructed seats in the building so that the view should be pretty good from everywhere in the building, just the distance to the ice varies depending on the amount of money you are willing to invest.
Seating-chart of the arena
Seating-chart provided by www.eishockey.com.
Directions to the arena
The arena itself is located just minutes walking-distance from the downtown area of Buffalo and right next to the former home of the Buffalo Sabres, the Buffalo Auditorium. There is also the local ballpark just a couple of blocks away so that more than enough parking can be found.
From the North (including Canada): Take I-190 South. You may exit at
either of two exits:
From the South, East, and West (via Thruway): Take Interstate 90
(Thruway) to Exit 53, which is I-190 North. You may exit at either of two exits:
From the East:
Links zum Team
Official homepage of the team: www.sabres.com
Homepage with infos about the city: www.buffalo.com