Is the loss of money due to whatever reason enough to have one of the oldest markets in the AHL to be removed??
There are some hints that– maybe, that could be the case. The Buffalo Sabres have seemingly asked the city of Rochester if they could move some games of the Rochester Americans to Buffalo. During lease negotiations with the team and the SMG Management (the managers of the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester), the Sabres floated an idea for the Amerks to play some games in Buffalo— but it wouldn’t happen until after the 2015-16 season. The Buffalo Sun Times believes that the AHL would not block the Sabres from moving “a large portion” of the Amerks home games to Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.
What this comes down to is the arena, which has been there since 1955, is in need of some renovations. The Sabres are looking to upgrade the boxes and suites, while the city itself is floating the idea of putting a new restaurant and marquee outside of the arena. The city itself has subsidized some money towards the possible $39M upgrade.
Another factor could be the fact that the Sabres and the city want to have a long-term lease agreement with the Blue Cross Arena to keep the Amerks right where they are, but it seems that the arena owner has only been providing year-to-year agreements– which creates the obvious thoughts of doubt for the future planning of the Amerks future and future of hockey in the city. With reports that all three entities in this– the Sabres, the city, and SMG Management– have all been losing money; it is something that could very well bring about many rumors in regards to the future of the team in the city.
For all of this news, what will be really interesting to see is what the Sabres will observe in Winnipeg and San Jose, also, With both of those teams sharing an arena with their AHL affiliate; the Sabres will most likely keep a close eye out and be in contact with those organizations to make sure that it’s a viable option to house two teams in an arena, while giving up on dates to other performers and live events.
As the second oldest city in the AHL, Rochester has been a part of the league since 1956 and has been one of the more successful franchises when it comes to attendance in the league. For obvious reasons, you would think that the league and Dave Andrews would do all they can in order to work with the city, team, and arena to keep the team in that area; which has been boosted with the success of the Syracuse Crunch and Utica Comets to create a viable AHL presence in the upstate New York area. That’s not to say that Rochester would be dark for too long. Just because the Sabres aren’t there doesn’t mean that Rochester won’t have AHL hockey– it has happened before from 2008-2011 due to financial insecurities in the area; but of course– the two are back together, though it seems that some of the same problems may have cropped up yet again.
Despite it’s history and, I’m sure, the league’s willingness to do something in order to keep the Amerks name alive and well in that area– there’s a time where the owners and city have lost too much money in this economy and landscape to take the hit anymore, even if they romanticize the team as much as they do. Granted, the trip of AHL to Buffalo could be temporary just to allow the renovations to happen to the Blue Cross Arena. It’s not as if the team would be playing games completely out of the way– with Buffalo being only a hour and fifteen minutes away from Rochester– but still, the greater worry is that the games in Buffalo are a success and owner Terry Pegula, despite being a lover of heritage, sees a move to Buffalo for the AHL would be much more cost effective and profitable than to keep the team in Rochester and deal with uncertainty with the lease of the arena.
For all involved, you hope something like this gets resolved and sorted out. Yet in the business of sports today; nothing is ever guaranteed to stay for long– even with the history it has.