Sabres Owner Terry Pegula integral to Buffalo’s growth


Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula said he hopes his $123 million HARBOR center Development project is a part of the puzzle that leads to Buffalo’s revitalization.  Pegula spoke at a press conference Monday on the corner of the block upon which his development will be built. Across the street from the First Niagara Center in what’s now a parking lot, the project involves two hockey rinks atop a parking garage, hotel, restaurant and retail space.

The additional rinks – which will be connected by bridge to the First Niagara Center – will hopefully encourage more youth to play hockey, he said. There is some rink space in Western New York, but popular rinks such as Dwyer Arena in Lewiston and the Northtowns Center in Amherst often exceed capacity, resulting in more off-time skates.

“It will get people in the area energized. More kids will play hockey, hopefully,” he said. “You won’t have to get up at 4 in the morning to play. You’ll get up at 6.”

Two additional downtown rinks would give Buffalo an additional advantage in hosting events such as the IIHF World Junior Championships that were in Buffalo two winters ago. The new rinks could also house the Buffalo Junior Sabres and local college clubs such as Canisius without on-campus facilities.

Pegula spoke Monday for the first time since the winning bid was awarded last month. The Sabres’ bid beat out that of Buffalo developer and former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. The price for the prime piece of property is not expected to exceed $2 million.

“This project that the city has so graciously given and handed off to us, against some pretty stiff competition from others, we’re very proud to carry it forward,” Pegula said.

The Pennsylvania native sees a lot of similarities between Buffalo and one of his home state’s premier cities. He hopes Buffalo can see a similar revitalization to what has been experienced in the Steel City:

“When I first went to Pittsburgh in the early ’70s, it was a dingy steel town. Through their sports teams, and through a lot of hard work and dedication by people like the mayor and the citizens, they transformed the image of the city. I’ve seen it happen. Maybe I’m dating myself now, but just because this is Buffalo doesn’t mean it can’t happen here, too.”

Construction is slated to start in March. Most of the project will be open by September 2014, with the hotel scheduled to open in spring 2015. The Sabres also invested $100,000 earlier this year for new sod on a plot of land adjacent to the arena.

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