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NHL's Buffalo Sabres Could Be On The Move  
User currently offlineAc_767 From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 32 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 14 hours ago) and read 1580 times:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The financially troubled Buffalo Sabres are in jeopardy of folding or leaving the city after this season unless state and local governments help out a pair of prospective buyers, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday.

``There's no question the franchise will complete the season. What happens beyond that will depend on if we can complete the sale,'' Bettman told The Associated Press. ``It hinges on a lot of things, but it will hinge, in some measure, on whether this is a good investment for the community. And that's something that only the government leaders will decide.''

The Sabres have been the league's most troubled franchise on and off the ice since the NHL took over operating control of the team from owner John Rigas last June.

The move came as a result of Rigas' financial troubles after he stepped down as chairman of Adelphia Communications, a cable TV company.

Buffalo has the league's second-worst record at 8-16-5-1, and last month, they had a 12-game winless skid (0-9-2-1), matching the longest streak in franchise history.

The team's poor performance combined with ownership uncertainty has significantly affected ticket sales.

The Sabres have sold out only one game this season and are averaging about 12,700 fans a game, about 6,000 below capacity and 5,000 fewer than last season's average.

Bettman added that even with public support, the Sabres face other hurdles, including financial problems and the prospect of bankruptcy to clear the way for a sale.

``If everything comes together, it will be promising,'' Bettman said. ``If none of this comes together, I can't predict what will happen.''

Bettman's comments came a day after he expressed his concerns over the Sabres' viability in a meeting with Erie County executive Joel Giambra and Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello.

Also at the meeting in New York City were the Sabres' prospective new owners, Todd Berman and Mark Hamister.

Bettman emphasized that while the new owners are not seeking public financial support to complete their purchase, they need assistance in the form capital improvements. That includes the construction of a parking ramp and improvements inside and around HSBC Arena.

The public assistance is estimated to cost about $15 million, not including an annual $1 million capital improvements fund that's expected to be part of the deal.

Hamister said he is not seeking any relief from the annual $2.5 million rent the team pays but is prepared to walk away from the deal if requests aren't met.

``The community needs to decide - do they want this team and do they want a vibrant HSBC Arena or don't they?'' Hamister said. ``I'm not interested in any other NHL franchise. I'm only interested in the Buffalo Sabres. But I'm also OK with not buying them.

``If this community doesn't want it, we'll take our money and not invest it in this business,'' he said.

Berman and Hamister's bid to buy the Sabres was conditionally approved by the NHL on Nov. 20. Upon approval, they were given a 45-day exclusive bargaining rights agreement - which expires Jan. 3 - to complete their purchase.

Adelphia, which declared bankruptcy last summer, has a large stake in the franchise's future. The company is the Sabres' largest creditor, owed $157 million in money Rigas used to purchase and operate the team after he took over control in the mid-1990s.

Local politicians remain hopeful.

``I firmly believe that they can make this work,'' Masiello said. ``But it's going to need some cooperation and some tender loving care on the part of all of us to massage this thing so that it does work.''

Gov. George Pataki said last week it would be difficult to provide state assistance to the Sabres.

``We're looking at where we can achieve savings, where we can lower the costs, and it's going to be extraordinarily difficult to move forward with new initiatives and investments,'' Pataki said.

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNoise From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1855 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (12 years 14 hours ago) and read 1576 times:

Wouldn't it be cool if the Sabres could move to Quebec or Winnipeg or Hamilton! The Quebec Nordiques vs. the Montreal Canadiens. Or the Hamilton Sabres vs. the Toronto Maple Laughs!

User currently offlineKROC From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 14 hours ago) and read 1573 times:

The Sabres won't be going anywhere. Watch.

User currently offlineTrickijedi From United States of America, joined May 2001, 3266 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (12 years 13 hours ago) and read 1570 times:

Watch them move across the border and be called the "Niagara-By-The-Lake Sabres".  Smile

Its better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than be in the air wishing you were on the ground. Fly safe!
User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (12 years 13 hours ago) and read 1568 times:

The Sabres are losing 2-0 to my Florida Panthers now  Big grin


Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
User currently offlineNoise From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1855 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (12 years 12 hours ago) and read 1567 times:

I hope the Sabres, along all su belt teams with the exception of Dallas and LA fold or more to places where they actually care about hockey. People in Atlanta don't even know what a puck looks like!

User currently offlineKROC From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 12 hours ago) and read 1561 times:

Nice, ignorant post Noise. Fans in Buffalo care about hockey, but when your teams owner gets tossed in the slam, bad things will happen. As for Dallas, Pheonix, etc, they draw their fans, so maybe you should have some knowledge about what you talk about first.

User currently offlineNoise From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1855 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (12 years 12 hours ago) and read 1560 times:

Nice, ignorant post Noise. Fans in Buffalo care about hockey, but when your teams owner gets tossed in the slam, bad things will happen. As for Dallas, Pheonix, etc, they draw their fans, so maybe you should have some knowledge about what you talk about first.

OK first of all, I follow hockey religiously, I know how the situation is in the Southern US and frankly, I don't give a sh.... if a team from the south folds or moves. the attendance levels are low, look at Anaheim and Phoenix, it's sad. Do you know anything about hockey?

Fans in Quebec City used to sell their cars just to get season tickets for the Quebec Nordiques. Now you tell, who do you think cares more about hockey? Southern US cities, where kids don't play road hockey on the street, and the only place they see ice is in their drinks, or the North, where hockey is religion. I am not ignorant, in fact, I live in the southern US 2 months out of the year. I know how it is to live in the south, and many many people don't care about hockey.

I am not denying that fans in Buffalo care about hockey. Hockey has a long tradition in western NY, from the French Connection line to the days of Pat Lafontain. The Sabres were a great franchise, but the team is really suffering financially, and it's time for them to move or fold, but I would prefer to see them move to Canada.

Phoenix, Florida, Carolina, Anaheim, etc DON'T draw their fans. Look up the stats.

I have plenty of knowledge about what I am talking aboot.

User currently offlineKROC From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (12 years 12 hours ago) and read 1557 times:

Last time I checked, Buffalo wasn't in the 'Southern US'.

User currently offlineHurricane From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1444 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (12 years 11 hours ago) and read 1558 times:

Carolina....DON'T draw their fans

Ahem. Been watching hockey lately? See the finals? Hockey can be successful in the south, and is here in Raleigh.

I am in favor of moving a team to Quebec. Hockey is a Canadian sport, and they get screwed because of teams moving south. The best thing to do for the loyal fans of Quebec is to move a team there. They deserve it. Teams down south, competing with other, more popular pro sports, don't draw crowds. Hockey would draw years of sellouts in Canadian cities with no team.

It would be best for hockey to return to its roots and its loyal fans and return to Quebec.

I see a NHL team succeding in Buffalo, but not the Sabres. Look at Charlotte, the Hornets, and their new franchise...

User currently offlineJcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 39
Reply 10, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 1542 times:

Listen, I have spent most of my teenage life in the Southeast (unfortunatly) as a die-hard hockey fan, more specifically a NY Islanders fan. Trust me, it may not be apparent, but there are some total hockey nuts down here. The NHL franchises in Dallas, Pheonix, and Nashville...to a certain extent Carolina and Atlanta have been wildly successful. A couple weeks ago I sold 2 Stars tickets on the street, 20 rows behind the goal for $150 each....that should tell you something. The Stars sell out nearly every night, and the ticket prices are astronomical...the tickets I scalped were company tix.

Look at the ECHL, which has most of its franchises in small cities in the southeast...talk about success. Many teams in those cities have waiting lists for season tickets. In those small towns, the people attending arent transplants like in FLA, TB, or ATL, they are real southerners with gun racks in their trucks. They love hockey! Think about it, tough (probably tougher) as football, and fast. We even have cars on the ice between periods.

I think that it is sorry situation that teams have to move out of Canada to the US, but Canadian teams get raped with the exchange rate and taxes. If hockey was so important to the Canadian government they would give large tax breaks to these teams to prevent them from moving south. Did Quebec need to lose the team? Yes and no. The fact is that outside of Montreal, there are few places in PQ that are well-off, and can pay high ticket prices to support escalating salaries. The people of Quebec City supported the Nords, but if they were still around today we'd probably see Quebec fielding a minor league roster, with a bankroll of $15-20 million US. However, the same cannot be said for cities like Winnipeg (moved to PHX), Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa. The teams in these cities occaisionally play to half empty barns, and have to scrape by just pay salaries. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD MOVE A TEAM TO CANADA.

I can sympathize with Canadian fans though, it was only five years ago that the Islanders had a payroll around 18 million and had a glorified minor-league roster. It was painful, and there were times when the owners were trying to get the team off the Island. Luckily, Charles Wang (CA founder) bailed the team out, and we are flourishing again in terms of attendance and the product on the ice. We still are in dire need of getting out of our contract with SMG (the group that owns the Coliseum), and we need a new building, but the fans came back to watch a good product. We had an increase of 44 points in the standings between the 00-01 and 01-02 seasons, and the attendance just happened to increase by an average of 4,500 people per game...a huge increase when you consider the Isles play in the smallest (and loudest, most obnoxious) barn in the league at 16,234 seats. I highly recommend a book that is coming out about this subject: "Fish Sticks: The Fall and Rise of the New York Islanders"

I dont think the Buffalo franchise will move. Someone will bail them out. That being said, again there is not too much disposible income in Buffalo, and not too many will pay $120 for a lower level seat. BUF has always had good size crowds, interest is not the problem, ticket prices are.

America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
User currently offline174thfwff From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (12 years 10 hours ago) and read 1541 times:

I'm sorry but when a request for State money to be sent in to save a hocky team then it's absolutly wrong!!!

I say fold. I don't want my $$ going to pay for some game when it could go and buy food for the poor or something.


User currently offlineJetService From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 4798 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (12 years 9 hours ago) and read 1536 times:

I agree about the state tax dollars, but it doesn't sound like they're going to get any anyway. Besides, the article said the public funding is for capital improvements on the building (unless I read it wrong); not to pay for the team, per se, and I suspect that building is used for more than just the Sabres. So I see nothing wrong with local tax dollars in that regard.

Regarding the South, I'd be suprised if Atlanta fans 'didn't know what a puck looks like'. Hockey is far from new to Georgia. Remember the Flames per-Calgary? Since then, they had a successful team in the IHL (AAA minors) called the Knights who even won a championship. And whether hockey is played on the streets or not is not a major factor. Granted, the Canadian teams had exchange problems, as mentioned, but why did the North Stars move to Dallas when filling arenas for high-school games? Why doesn't Milwaukee have an NHL team (another minor-league success story)? There's nothing wrong with hockey in the South.

"Shaddap you!"
User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 52
Reply 13, posted (12 years 8 hours ago) and read 1528 times:

Games here in South Florida are never sold out...Panthers get around 10,000 a game or so (19000 seat arena)...


Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
User currently offlineTbar220 From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7013 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (12 years 6 hours ago) and read 1521 times:

Ever since Hasek left the Sabres, they've been slowly going downhill. Martin Biron is a good goalie, but nowhere near Hasek's level, and not good enough to keep the entire team above .500%.

As for the Ducks, you'd be surprised at the success they're having this year. They are in second place in the west, behind wildly succesful Dallas. They're goalie is hot right now, they're an exciting team to watch. Oates, Rucchin, Sykora, and Kariya make from some great goal scorers.

NO URLS in signature
User currently offlineSeb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11794 posts, RR: 15
Reply 15, posted (12 years 6 hours ago) and read 1520 times:

There has been much talk around Portland of getting another professional team. Right now we are in the running to get the Montreal Expos, but I am sure they will end up in Washington DC. There has also been talk of moving the Sabres here. There has been since last season. I almost hope so. Then I can see my Canucks more! But if the team does not come to Portland, I hope they end up in Canada.

BTW, the Ducks may be in second in the division, but the Canucks are second in the conference Big grin

Life in the wall is a drag.
User currently offlineTbar220 From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7013 posts, RR: 26
Reply 16, posted (11 years 12 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 1507 times:

Well yea! The Canucks have Dan Cloutier, enough said  Big thumbs up He is one hell of a goalie. The all star game will some different faces in goal this year. I can see Fernandez, Cloutier, and Giguere playing this year. Odd eh? Lots of fun.

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User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (11 years 12 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 1500 times:

Anytime in the last five years an NHL team has been rumored to be moved, Portland is always the rumored city, much like Tampa was in baseball, and Jacksonville and Nashville for football. Paul Allen wants an NHL team VERY VERY badly, because he wants to put a team in to play at the Rose Garden on nights that the Blazers are either off or on the road. If the deal the NHL has with Hamister and Berman expires, look to see Paul Allen jump in with a bid that would be at a fire sale price. As for the comment by Noise, I live in Atlanta, and I know what a puck looks like (and I'm a native Atlantan). If it wasn't for Atlanta, there wouldn't be any teams in the Sun Belt, because the Atlanta Flames paved the way for hockey in warmer cities. The Flames didn't move because of lack of fan support, they moved because the owner of the team was in a bind financially due to a slump in the real estate market, and had to sell the team to cover some debt. Atlanta sports fans are really bandwagon sports fans. Pro sports take a backseat to UGA football and NASCAR. Only when a pro team is winning will the fans turn out in droves. With the Thrashers poor play their first 4 seasons, the only time Philips Arena gets packed is when teams like the Rangers, the Flyers, the Red Wings, the Penguins, the Bruins, and the Blackhawks come to town, especially if it's a Friday, Saturday or Sunday game. I consider myself a passionate Atlanta Thrashers fans, even though I didn't attend my first Thrashers game until their second season (due to the fact that there went too many home games on my offdays from work), but last year I went to as many games as I could (15, 1 exhibition, 14 regular season). This year I haven't been able to go to too many of them due to being unemployed, but have managed to go to two of them this season. To me, the biggest problem with the Thrashers is with their broadcast coverage. The flagship radio station drops in power after 7 p.m., and the next nearest station that broadcasts the games I can't even pick up. The TV telecasts are handled poorly as well. Except for Saturday games, the games are broadcast on Turner South, a cable station, and they don't broadcast every game either. In order to get some Thrashers games, you would have to subscribe to one of the PPV pakages, and right now, that's not really worth paying to see a last-place team. I know most people have cable, but there are still some that don't, so how can you build up fan support is your fans can't watch the game on TV, or pick it up on their radios?

User currently offlineNoise From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1855 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (11 years 12 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 1497 times:


Yeah of course, I saw the finals, I also saw the Hurricanes beat my beloved Habs. Attendence was high in the playoffs last year, I am not denying that, but you can't just say that hockey is succedding in Carolina right away. Look at the Florida Panthers. In 1996, they went to the finals and attracted many, many fans. Now look at them, they are attracting close to 10, 000 per game. It's too bad, but what are you going to do, fans just don't support the Panthers in Miami.


There is no doubt about it, there is less support for southern teams than northern teams. Cities like Milwaukee simply don't have the money or the fan support for a hockey team.


When I said people in atlanta don't know what a puck looks like, I was only using it as a metaphor. I didn't really mean it literally, I was only joking around. So you've been to a few Thrashers games? How do you like the sport and the team. Atlanta's hockey team has a bright future, with Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatly, but I still feel the fans support isn't there and the situation could become like Florida's.

User currently offlineNoise From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1855 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (11 years 12 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 1497 times:

Here are some stats I found:

Nashville is averaging announced crowds of 12,431, Atlanta is at 12,625, Buffalo is at 12,759, Chicago is at 12,854, Anaheim is at 13,192, Boston is at 13,510 and New Jersey is at 13,873.

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