Sabres Plan for Development of Webster Block is a Good Idea [OPINION]
Three plans have been submitted for development of the Webster Block, the area around the First Niagara Center and Buffalo's Inner Harbor, according to Business First. The City of Buffalo, under the guidance of Mayor Byron Brown and Rep. Brian Higgins, has done a fantastic job with Canalside, redeveloping the area quickly and using plans from the Old Erie Canal terminus to it's benefit. Park benches have been added and already the area is improving with concerts, events and a newly opened restaurant. But for waterfront development to really take hold the area needs an anchor attraction.For years Buffalo courted Bass Pro and was left at the alter, but the proposed development of the Webster Block is a much more economical solution. The thought that a fishing and boat store would attract people is crazy to me. Now hockey on the other hand...
The Buffalo Sabres presented a plan that calls for a multi-rink hockey facility the team could also practice in. College hockey teams could use the ice as well, and hockey tournaments would be played there too (Leisure Rink's Pepsi Tournament brings over 100,000 people from across the country and Canada to Western New York every April). God knows this area has enough hockey families to support it year round with youth and amateur games. Many adult hockey teams play after 10 p.m., and it isn't odd for groups to rent ice after midnight, just to get some ice time. With the Buffalo Sabres practicing at a new facility it would also open up the arena for more special events. Hello, year-round Circus!
Here's a few suggestions though for a new hockey facility:
1. Keep the price for ice time reasonable: As big as hockey is, families don't want to spend more to have their kids play and they do have other options.
2. Keep parking free (and close): Nobody wants to walk six blocks with a heavy bag of hockey equipment. With hockey costing families at least $1,000 (plus equipment), Dad doesn't want to shell out another 10 bucks to park. Validate the parking, I beg of you.
3.Open the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame there: We love our hockey, and the rich tradition of the Sabres past could be highlighted with exhibits. Might want to even consider a wing for the Buffalo Bills, and pay honor to all the great athletes from Buffalo.
4. Don't just make the building just a hockey facility: New York City has the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. It not only offers hockey, but bowling, a golf club, basketball courts and fitness center. It's packed year round and that's the point isn't it? Build something that will keep Western New Yorkers coming to the Waterfront, especially after 5 pm when the city turns into a ghost town.
That's why I don't like Carl Paladino's bid which calls for a brand name hotel, office space and apartments. More of the same-ole-same-ole. To me that does nothing to bring people down to the waterfront after work. It's just another chance to sell more rental properties and add to his billions. So many bad decisions have been made in the past, let's not mess this up.