(Buffalo, N.Y.) — Conditions at the aging KeyBank Center, home to the Buffalo Sabres and other events, have many fans wondering if renovations to the arena might come in the near future.
After 21 years of usage without any upgrades, many observers say the arena has fallen behind compared to other venues around the NHL.
“It’s just dirty,” said Matt Bove, sports reporter and anchor for WKBW, 7 Eyewitness News. “It just needs a little bit of a makeover.”
Bove, who covers the Sabres, appeared on the Buffalo Review April 13 to discuss the possibility of renovating the KeyBank Center.
“It’s hard to get fans to the game because the Sabres have been so bad. It’s additionally hard when the seats are deteriorating,” he said.
“I think something that a lot of fans would like, would be a widening of the concourse,” said Bove. “In between periods, walking around, it’s really tight in there; it’s like a bunch of sardines.”
Bove said the seats in the arena, which have seen a lot of the wear and tear, are also in need of improvement.
“It’s just concrete with seats on top of it and a lot of seats have little dings and chips in them. The cup holders and the back of (the seats) are cracked and the cushions are deflated,” he said.
The Sabres might want to look at how renovations were done at Cola-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo, he said, where older seats were phased out over time and newer seats were brought in.
KeyBank Center, which opened in 1996, is owned by Erie County, but it’s operated by the Pegula family who owns the Sabres.
Just last month, it was announced the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, home of the NHL’s Flyers and NBA’s 76ers, would undergo renovations estimated at $250 million. That arena opened one month before the KeyBank Center.
“Renovations for KeyBank Center wouldn’t be as expensive as the Wells Fargo Center,” said Bove.
Some have estimated upgrades to KeyBank Center could cost around $50 million, which would be comparable to the $40 million overhaul announced in February for the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.