Kim and Terry Pegula, the owners of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, welcomed thousands Thursday night to the official opening of the HarborCenter.
Thursday night offered Terry Pegula a chance to show the facility off and receive the key to the city from Mayor Brown. The event brought to a close the quick transition of what was a dingy parking lot into a $200 million complex.
The formal opening took place on the facility's Rink One, which will be the home for Canisius College Golden Griffins, ECC Kats, and the Junior Sabres. Thousands were there for games last weekend and there will be more this weekend
Terry Pegula wondered aloud the potential impact of his new HarborCenter and how it could bring together different parts of the world.
"Some kid in Stockholm, Sweden who says, 'Yes, I've been to Buffalo,'" he said.
Kim Pegula says she learned a lot from her key role in getting the complex built and in making some fundamental changes from hockey and parking and maybe a hotel to what's opening.
"To be standing here on center ice today is just a testament to the thousands of workers, the passion, the hard work that so many people put together so that our vision and the vision that we shared with everyone else would come to fruition," Kim Pegula said.
The next celebration occurs Friday with the opening of the (7-1-6) Food and Sports restaurant, just around the building's corner from the new Tim Horton's coffee shop. The next major phase continues this winter with continuing construction of a Marriott Hotel.
HarborCenter President John Koelmel says he is negotiating with some retail owners about locating in HarborCenter. The hotel, he says, will be open in the middle of next year to serve the hockey schools and Canalside.