Sabres Hope HARBORcenter Project Attracts Visitors, Special Events, NHL Free Agents
Sabres officials believe that the new HARBORcenter development will "become the ultimate hockey palace, headlined by two National Hockey League-size rinks sitting six and seven stories above the street," according to a front-page piece by Gene Warner of the BUFFALO NEWS. Sabres Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson said, "It’s the ‘Field of Dreams’ for hockey players. It’s the place where hockey players are going to want to come." The Sabres call the new project “Hockey Heaven,” hoping that the area "becomes a hockey magnet attracting everyone from young Mite ankle-skaters to NHL stars." The project includes a "200-room hotel, 845-space garage, restaurant, sports bar and retail space." The facility will be "used for youth hockey practices, games and tournaments; coaching clinics; top-flight college Division I and junior hockey competition; recreational community skating; world-class workout and training facilities; showcase youth tournaments; and international hockey events." The price tag for the "ever-changing project has risen now" to $172M, up from the previous $123M. The facility is "scheduled to open" in September '14, while the hotel is "set to open the following spring." Consultants told Sabres officials that "as many as 500,000 visitors may be lured to the site, helping further develop and revitalize the Canalside area." The project should "elevate the level of youth hockey played in Western New York, improve the Division I and pro chances for local elite players and even help attract NHL free agents to the Sabres." Sabres officials expect the building to "be the new home of both Canisius College’s Division I team and the Buffalo Junior Sabres" (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/15).