Sabres Home Renamed First Niagara Center

In the modern age of sports arenas and corporate sponsorship, buildings change names all the time. Gone are the days of arenas and stadiums known as the Garden, the Forum, the Palace and Pacific Coliseum. There are three NHL arenas (Joe Louis Arena, Madison Square Garden, and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) that do not have a sponsored name on the arena. Now you have fancy sponsored names such as (a job/career search engine) Arena, St. Pete Times (a newspaper) Forum, CONSOL Energy (a coal mining company) Center, Rogers (a communications company) Arena, and you can add First Niagara Center to that list.

The building in Buffalo formerly known as Marine Midland Arena and HSBC Arena kept their name in the banking family as First Niagara Bank has a 15-year agreement to have their name on the arena. First Niagara purchased HSBC Bank USA, which caused the arena name change. It had been called HSBC Arena since 1999 when HSBC acquired Marine Midland Bank, which had their name on the arena from its inception in 1996 to 1999.

The move comes during a busy 2011 in the Buffalo organization. The team was purchased by Terry Pegula in the early stages of the year, and he has led a complete overhaul of the franchise and front office in an effort to make the team better and to strive for a deep run in the postseason. Pegula owned a natural gas company that was sold for $4.7 billion. In addition to buying the Sabres for $189 million, he donated $88 million to Penn State University for the development and construction of a 6,000-seat ice arena set for completion in 2013 when Penn State will add men’s and women’s ice hockey as a NCAA-Division I varsity sport.

According to a story first posted in the Buffalo News, the head folks at First Niagara thought about renaming the arena First Niagara Auditorium. It would have been a homage to the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, the home of the Sabres from 1970-1996. While that would have been sweet for Buffalo natives, First Niagara Center sounds better off the tongue, and it also allows fans to already come up with jokes along the lines of “The Sabres finally got a F’N Center, just not the kind we wanted”.


  1. As much as I’d like to see the Wings get a new arena, I hate the thought of going from something with character like the Joe Louis Arena to something corporate (unless they call it Five Dollar Hot-and-Ready Arena. That would be awesome). I cringe every time someone mention Arena. I think it almost detracts from the character and heritage of the game and makes it too commercial and corporate.

    • When the Illitches were more serious about arena talks (how many times have we heard about the land behind the Fox and by Bookies Tavern thats used currently for parking), people were even suggesting names like Little Caesars Coliseum. I’d love for them to go back to Olympia if anything…

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