SBD/September 7, 2012/Franchises

Sabres Send Group To Southern Ontario In Effort To Engage Fans In The Region

The Sabres Friday are concluding a two-day "goodwill tour" in Southern Ontario in which "management, players and alumni will ride across the border together to reconnect with the Sabres' fans in Canada," according to John Vogl of the BUFFALO NEWS. The team estimates 10% of season-ticket holders live in the region, but trips to Canada "have dwindled through the years." The Sabres "haven't held training camp in St. Catharines, Ont., since 2003, and increased border-crossing regulations can make short visits difficult." Sabres President Ted Black said, "Engaging Southern Ontario, the Niagara Frontier is really, really important to us for the future of the Buffalo Sabres. In years past we went there to try and sell tickets. Here, we just want to sell ourselves on enlisting new fans and connecting with the fans that maybe haven't seen us over there physically for a while." Vogl noted Black, C Ville Leino, former Sabres Danny Gare and Jay McKee and broadcaster Harry Neale, among others, are making "several stops in Fort Erie and St. Catharines" during the trip. Black also "reiterated his commitment to getting the Sabres on basic television in Southern Ontario." Vogl noted it has been "more than 15 years since the Sabres were a TV staple north of the border because of the contracts with cable providers MSG and Empire Sports Network" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/6).

WELCOME TO PEGULA-VILLE: The CP's John Wawrow noted the Sabres last week won the rights to build a $123M multi-purpose complex across the street from First Niagara Center, and construction is set to begin in March on a 614,000 square-foot building featuring a "200-room hotel, two ice rinks (including one with an 1,800-seating capacity), retail/restaurant space and parking garage." Sabres Owner Terry Pegula said, "We're excited to bring this thing together. When we get this thing done, hopefully, we'll make Buffalo part of a hockey destination in the U.S. It'll be a magnet and it'll help everybody in the area." Wawrow noted the Sabres "estimate the new facility will annually attract 500,000 visitors." The ice rinks will be open to the public and "double as the team's practice facility." With two more rinks downtown, the team sees this as an "opportunity to lure national and international hockey tournaments" (CP, 9/6).
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