Training camp is officially underway, and fans entering the First Niagara Center on Monday for the first time this season will see a whole lot of changes, all of which have happened pretty quickly and recently.
A couple of changes will be visible from the exterior of the building. Workers began removing the HSBC Arena sign on the front of building on September 16, and it’s expected that a new sign designating it the FNC will be ready by the start of the regular season. A new 90-foot-long ribbon board will be installed on the outside of the building to display events at the arena.
In addition, the outside walkway from the parking lot to the arena, which used to have the 40th Anniversary banner on it, has been cleared. Plans for that space haven’t been revealed yet, but in the past, a team photo has graced the walkway.
Walking into the arena, fans will see that the area of the ticket offices has been painted blue, rather than the red it was previously. The 2008 Winter Classic mural is – FINALLY! – gone, and in its place is a blue mural that states “We Live Hockey.” Photos of Tyler Ennis, Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, Paul Gaustad and Thomas Vanek are also incorporated into the mural. The poles around this area have been painted with black and white stripes to look like a referee uniform, and the entrance to the locker room area now says ‘Buffalo Sabres’ over it.
Looking up, the Blue Light Zone has a new background, painted blue, white and gold, replacing yellow and green stripes. The slug logos have been taken down from this area, and the new Sabres logos have been added.
On the 100 level, the poles near food stands have been painted blue with a gold stripe. Concession stands have been fitted with new signs. The 200 level has new carpeting.
In the rink, the red stripe around the 100 level has been painted gold, which has a great visual impact. The slug logos have finally been removed from the Jumbotron and replaced with the new logos. It’s worth noting that these logos WILL still produce smoke with a goal – they just won’t be ready until the regular season.
It’s a whole new world, folks. Enjoy it!