That was quite the morning at Blue Cross Arena where the Buffalo Sabres officially announced the purchase of the Rochester Americans. At the head table was Dave Andrews, Darcy Regier, Terry Pegula, and Ted Black with the Mayor of Rochester and County Executive sitting in the front row. There was a lot of time spent talking to everyone in attendance which reduced the amount of time I have to write but will give a quick recap and you can be guaranteed there’ll be more to come.
Through this whole deal there’s two sides to what’s going on. Â You have die hard Rochester Americans fans who want the team to get back to winning a Calder Cup and then you have Buffalo Sabres fans who want to see the players develop. Â Both sides have a valid discussion point.
The one thing I shrugged about was how many times the Stanley Cup was mentioned but not once was the Calder Cup spoke of. Â There’s definitely a lot of talk about being committed to winning hockey games in Rochester and the Sabres know that needs to happen. Â They get that players need to develop but they also need to win. Â One of the things they believe will help all of that is that they will have the ability to control everything and in such a short distance. Â Everything from on the ice training, strength and conditioning, diet and everything else a hockey player needs to learn. Â They won’t be relying on a staff a long distance away where it’s tougher to make changes.
From a fan standpoint, the news of $10 season tickets for any seat in the building is a big deal. Â If you’re a previous season ticket holder you will get first dibs at the seat you’ve held on to for some time. Â Right now they’re just taking reservations for seats but not handing out any seat locations. Â More info on that.
I had asked about the Amerks alignment in The AHL and Dave Andrews said that Amerks fans won’t be happy that they’ll be staying in the West but he said there’s more to it than that. Â He said at the Board of Governors meeting they plan to introduce a drastic change to the way the divisions are setup and it all depends on getting approval for it to happen. Â If all goes as planned we’ll likely see six divisions split up instead of just four.
The entire Amerks staff had to fill out job applications to work for the Buffalo Sabres, including play by play announcer Don Stevens. Ted Black was asked about Don Stevens and he seemed to hint that because so many people were asking about him it likely means he has some great references. The staff hasn’t heard anything yet but is hoping by the end of the week.
Lewis Staats said they were approached by the Sabres about buying the franchise. Â It didn’t take long for Curt Styres to decide to sell the team based on that is what fans have always wanted. Â Interesting to note that not once did Tom Golisano ever reach out about buying the Amerks from them.
They do plan to try and get games on TV again but not an entire season.
They aren’t sure at this point from a merchandise standpoint how Amerks gear will be offered in Buffalo or anywhere else. Â Ted Black said that they assumed the agreements the Amerks had in place and will need to review everything.
They will be looking at including Rochester Americans alumni into things. Â Black said that the last Sabres game was amazing with all of the Sabres alumni there and they will definitely be taking a look at ideas like that for here.
I will have a lot more to come, just had time to put together a quick recap. Â Just about everything mentioned at the press conference is what you would expect, ground breaking news rarely comes from these things. Â The true test will be July 1st when free agency opens up and we see if the Sabres are active in signing veterans for Rochester.
You have to give the new ownership a ton of credit for lowering the ticket prices, despite already having significantly enhanced the value of the product for the 95% of the people in Rochester (the other 5% who don’t care about/don’t want the Sabres go to the games anyway).
This shows just how off-base the Styres group was. They raised ticket prices (some levels by 33%) despite a poor on-ice product and bad economy and the fans responded accordingly, by not showing up. Their only response was to make a passive-aggressive youtube video that was an insult to fans at the game who had paid to get in.
With $10 season tickets for every level, I expect the 100’s to be pretty full next year. This will make the arena feel more packed than any tarps could ever do.
Thank you, Mr. Pegula for saving our team.
Go Amerks. Go Sabres.
Thanks for the comment, I’ll be addressing it a little more in a post in the morning.
I don’t think they really “saved the team.” The team was never in danger of being moved. Styres was always committed to trying to find a partner/affiliation to provide a winning team that Rochester could be proud of. If Pegula had never offered to buy the Amerks we’d just have a new affiliation heading into next season with the same goal, to win the Calder Cup.
The team was on the downswing popularity-wise and wasn’t turning a corner. At some point, Styres would have had to cut his losses. It was a combination of things outside of their control (affiliation, arena management) and things they could control (ticket prices, for example)
Previously, you were rewarded for buying a ticket far away from the ice, now you are rewarded for buying lots of tickets. It’s a change in philosophy that makes sense for a product whose supply (arena capacity) has been much greater than its demand (tickets sold).
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