The historic Aud doesn’t seem all that far behind in the rear view, but we’re now approaching nearly 20 years of the Sabres being stationed at First Niagara Center. The building, which has undergone its share of name changes, has played host to some of the most incredible moments in Buffalo Sabres history. It’s also the site of “No Goal” which is something Sabres fans are doomed to never forget.
Buffalo Sabres Stadium
The Sabres made the trek from the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium to their current home rink in 1996. The First Niagara Center serves as western New York’s unofficial hockey palace, although the play of their professional club has gone from prince to pauper at times. Buffalo finished dead last in the NHL standings in 2014-15, but the rink miraculously remained 97.4% full in the face of some of the worst hockey in franchise history. That percentage speaks to the loyalty of the fans… and the desire for the team to tank hard enough to get a high draft pick. (Drafting Jack Eichel #2 overall signals mission partially accomplished.) So did Buffalo thrive on the support/tank turnout? Indeed! Of the Sabres paltry 23 wins, 14 came at First Niagara Center.
The Aud is looked back upon with nostalgic eyes, but it’s fair to say the biggest Sabres moments (outside of Brad May’s “MAYDAY!” OT winner) have taken place at the current building. The First Niagara Center was Buffalo’s home base for the club’s 1999 Stanley Cup run that ended with the heartbreak of the Dallas Stars winning the trophy on their turf courtesy of an incredibly controversial triple OT goal from Brett Hull. If there’s a ghost that haunts the First Niagara Center it’s Hull’s toe in the crease.
Date Opened: 1996
Construction Cost: $127.5 Million
Architect: Ellerbe Becket
Capacity Attendance: 19,070
Has A Stanley Cup Final Been Played There: Yes
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