Minor league hockey in Buffalo could work


I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I think bringing in a minor league hockey team could be beneficial to the city of Buffalo. Now I’m not specifically talking about an AHL hockey team- that would be too big- but what about a team from the ECHL? The ECHL is still a respectable hockey league that produces NHL caliber players, but the league is small enough so the expenses wouldn’t be too high.

We all know Buffalo loves their hockey, so more professional hockey would potentially be a financial benefit right? The hitch in this giddyup’ is finding a suitable enough rink for the team. My first thought was the Amherst Pepsi Center’s Olympic size rink. I remember thinking when I played hockey how HUGE that rink was, but I looked up the seating capacity and it is only at a meager 1,400 and according to ECHL.com, the average attendance for their teams is 4,452 per game. Unfortunately in the city of Buffalo the only suitable rink is HSBC arena.

Now hypothetically if the city brought in an ECHL team and they played at HSBC arena, they would have to order their schedule around the Sabres’ games. This means playing on days that they were away or playing when they didn’t have a game. The ECHL team would also have to manipulate their practice schedule around the Sabres as well. This again could hinder any plans for a second team, but it isn’t a total detractor.

This idea of mine is only half-brained and it is far-fetched, but I think it would be something that the hockey fans of Buffalo could get behind. There is enough support from the hockey community for this half-brained idea to potentially work.

  • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

    Jim,

    Good post. I think Niagara University’s Dwyer’s Arena can seat 2100 – a little bit more than the Pepsi Center – and will also host games during this years 2010 IIHF U20 Tournament in December.

    Also, if the ECHL was serious about making Buffalo a venue for their league, someone could renovate either the Pepsi Center or Dwyers to support the cause.

    • Jim Bateman

      I thought about Niagara University as well. I did most of my hockey playing there when I was growing up and many have urged them to expand. If they would expand they could also get bigger and better teams like Michigan, Miami(OH) and what not to come, but they have refused.

  • bigbob

    Could minor league hockey (ECHL) work in the Buffalo/Western New York area. I think yes. The tickets are much more affordable. They are family oriented and it is usually a good time for kids and adults alike. Where would they play? HSBC, right now, is the only place to look at….not unless a commitment from the Pepsi Center is there or a new rink is built. Also, looking at putting the team up at NU and re-modeling the arena to bring in bigger and better teams at the college level would work even better. getting our local universities to have a stronger hockey program would be a huge benefit for the economy of the area and a boon for the universities. Right now, NU, arguably, has the best team….but to upgrade the competition and the arena would draw a better caliber of player to the area and the surrounding schools (Canisius, St. Bonaventure and UB) as well as some Canadian Colleges would prosper from this. This is a great idea that needs to be thought through a little more, get some financial backing and go from there. I would attend and maybe be an off ice official again !!!!