In the midst of a wave of arena renovations around the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres have sought ideas from architects on a possible KeyBank Center overhaul.
KeyBank Center originally opened as Marine Midland Arena in 1996, during what was something of a boom period for new arena construction around the NHL. Some venues that opened around that same period–such as Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena (1996), St. Louis’s Scottrade Center (1994), Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena (1996), and Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center (1996)–either have or are about to receive major renovations. KeyBank Center, however, has not had a comprable level of upgrades, and is beginning to show its age in many areas, from cracks in some parts of the concrete to the aging condition of its seats.
No firm plans for a renovation have been finalized to this point, but Pegula Sports and Entertainment officials–including Sabres president Russ Brandon–have visited other arenas around the NHL in recent years to gather some ideas. The Sabres have also reportedly met with several architects, with the intention of soliciting input on a possible renovation. More from The Buffalo News:
“Our arena was very well done when it was built,” Brandon said in an interview with The Buffalo News. “The sightlines certainly are a plus. We’ve got nice club areas as far as proximity to ingress and egress, and our suites are nicely positioned. But I can assure you we’ve had a lot of internal discussion knowing where the building is age-wise and having seen what other facilities across the country are doing that are in the same age bracket.
“On the business side, we want to control the controllables – and that’s to provide the fan with the best experience possible. That means maneuvering the building, concessions, merchandise, technology options. How people consume the product is far different than when we started out. We want to take a holistic approach in looking at the positives of other areas and implement what we think is right for our fan base.”
Brandon isn’t talking specifics just yet, but the Sabres have already met with prominent architects in the sports design field to solicit ideas for what can be done as a renovation in Buffalo.
In many cases, recent NHL renovations have led to enhancements such as improved technology, revised seating options, new social and gathering spaces, and more. It remains to be seen what the Sabres will decide with KeyBank Center, but those types of projects have become commonplace in NHL arena renovations.