It might be hard to think about baseball on the cold winter day when crews were outside Buffalo's downtown ballpark, but the changing of signs at what is now officially Sahlen Field Tuesday morning offered hope that spring will arrive soon.
The deal was first announced in December. Sahlen Packing Company, best known among Western New Yorkers for its hot dogs, acquired naming rights to the home of the Buffalo Bisons for the next ten years. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
Joe Sahlen, executive vice president, stood in the cold as crews lifted the first piece of a large sign, a modification of the company's logo which reads "Sahlen Field."
"Pretty exciting day," he said. "I"m glad to see our signs finally go up."
It's the fifth name to go up on Buffalo's baseball stadium. Opening in 1988 as Pilot Field, the stadium was subsequently named North Americare Park, Dunn Tire Park, Coca Cola Field and, as of December, Sahlen Field.
"They were the very first people to call when it became known that the naming rights would be open," said Buffalo Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski. "I said to (assistant general manager) Anthony Sprague, it's almost too good to be true. A lot of times it doesn't work out but it did. It worked out."
Both sides see the naming agreement as an ideal combination. Sahlen spoke of his company's products, and their local popularity.
"I think we're an underlying factor. Everybody in Western New York loves hot dogs. Everybody loves the Bisons. So now, we're coming together in this partnership," Sahlen said.
Buczkowski, meanwhile, pointed out the importance of having a locally-owned and family-owned company put its name on Buffalo's ballpark.
"A great family. It's 150 years they're celebrating," Buczkowski said. "With Rich Products, there's a lot of similarities between our companies. Hot dogs and baseball, there's nothing that goes together better than hot dogs and baseball. I think it was a perfect fit. We're looking forward to getting it underway."
Weather permitting, the Bisons open their 2019 International League season at home, Sahlen Field, on Thursday, April 4.