Local
8:55 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Sabres fans flock to First Niagara Center

The Buffalo Sabres say more than 10,000 were in First Niagara Center to watch the team scrimmage Monday night.

Sabres players were split into a blue team and a white team for a match. They played three 15-minute periods, a five-minute overtime, and then a shootout.

Among the crowd was Jerry Landahl, who came from Lancaster with his family.

"We decided to come today and see the Sabres. We waited for months to get down here," Landahl said.

"I hadn't been down to see the team in a long time. We figured we'd gather everybody up and race down here and check 'em out for a little while."

One change the fans discovered is that the parking lot right across South Park with its 290 spaces is closed, at least for now. It's going to be the site for team owner Terry Pegula's Harbor Center, offering a mix of hotel rooms, retail space, restaurants and two ice rinks.

"We've been doing some site work and site survey work," said Sabres Vice President Mike Gilbert.

"We've been working with architects and our construction manager on timing and making sure everything is planned out. We've had some preliminary meetings with some of the public agencies. And we keep moving forward towards what we hope will be a ground-breaking on or before March 1.

The ice rinks are slated to open September 1 of next year and the hotel as the last piece May 1 of 2015.