First Niagara Center
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First Niagara Center

KeyBank Center
KeyBank Center logo.svg
First Niagara Center front.jpg
Photo of then-First Niagara Center in 2012
Former namesMarine Midland Arena (1996-2000)
HSBC Arena (2000-2011)
First Niagara Center (2011-2016)
Address1 Seymour H. Knox III Plaza
LocationBuffalo, New York
Coordinates42°52?30?N 78°52?35?W / 42.87500°N 78.87639°W / 42.87500; -78.87639Coordinates: 42°52?30?N 78°52?35?W / 42.87500°N 78.87639°W / 42.87500; -78.87639
Public transitTram interchange NFTA Metro Rail (Special Events)
OwnerErie County
OperatorPegula Sports and Entertainment
(Hockey Western New York, LLC)
CapacityIce hockey:
18,595 (1996-1999)
18,690 (1999-2012)
19,070 (2012-present)
Concerts: 18,500
Basketball: 19,200
Wrestling: 16,597
Field size700,000 sq ft (65,000 m2)
Broke groundNovember 4, 1994[1]
Built1994-1996 [2]
OpenedSeptember 21, 1996
Construction cost$127.5 million
($210 million in 2020 dollars[3])
ArchitectEllerbe Becket (now known as AECOM)[4]
Bergmann Associates PC[5]
Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects
General contractorHuber, Hunt & Nichols[6]
Buffalo Sabres (NHL) (1996-present)
Buffalo Bandits (NLL) (1996-present)
Canisius (NCAA) 1996-1998
Rochester Americans (AHL) (1996-2008, 2011-present) (Occasional Home Games)
Buffalo Blizzard (NPSL) (1996-2001)
Buffalo Wings (RHI) (1997)
Buffalo Destroyers (AFL) (1999-2003)
Official website

KeyBank Center, formerly known as Marine Midland Arena, HSBC Arena and First Niagara Center, is a multipurpose indoor arena located in downtown Buffalo, New York. It is the largest indoor arena in Western New York, seating 19,070 fans in its normal configuration, and was constructed primarily for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League (NHL), who have called the arena home since 1996, when it replaced the now-demolished Memorial Auditorium. The arena was renamed as KeyBank Center starting with the 2016-2017 NHL season.[7][8] It is owned by Erie County and operated by Pegula Sports and Entertainment (as Hockey Western New York, LLC).


What was originally known during construction as Crossroads Arena opened September 21, 1996, replacing the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. The construction cost was $127.5 million, (approximately $210 million in 2020 dollars).[3]


Naming rights were sold to Marine Midland Bank, part of the HSBC banking group in 1996, and the building was renamed Marine Midland Arena pre before the first game had been played. The bank bought the naming rights for 30 years then to expire in 2026. In 1999, as part of HSBC's worldwide corporate rebranding, the arena's name was changed to HSBC Arena, with the official renaming taking place on March 17, 2000. This name change coincided with the playing of the first college basketball tournament game in the arena's history. The press box in the arena is named after former Sabres broadcaster and Hockey Hall of Fame member Ted Darling. In 2011, Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group reached an agreement to purchase HSBC Bank's upstate New York and Connecticut branch network.[9] While naming rights to HSBC Arena were not included in the sale, First Niagara, HSBC, the Buffalo Sabres and other parties reached an agreement to establish a new naming rights deal with First Niagara. The name of the arena became First Niagara Center that summer, with the official renaming taking place that fall.[10][11] First Niagara bought the naming rights for 15 years, approximately the remainder of the time that was left on HSBC's naming rights deal with the arena.[12] KeyCorp announced its plans to purchase First Niagara--and thus also the naming rights to the arena--on October 30, 2015.[13][14] Although exterior signage was installed during the week of August 11, 2016, the renamed KeyBank Center became official on September 19, 2016.[15][16]

On September 10, 2019, Pegula Sports and Entertainment reached a 10-year naming rights agreement for the building connected to KeyBank Center with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM). LECOM Harborcenter was developed by Pegula Sports and Entertainment and occupies a full 1.7-acre (0.69 ha) city block formerly known as the Webster Block, directly across from and connected to the KeyBank Center and Canalside.[17]

The scoreboard

On November 16, 1996, the arena's first JumboTron, an eight-sided scoreboard made by Daktronics with Sony video screens, fell to the ice while it was being remotely moved. This happened minutes after a few players ended practice and hours before a game between the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins. Nobody was injured, but the game was postponed.[18] The scoreboard was replaced later that season. In time for the Buffalo Sabres' 2007-2008 season, a new HD scoreboard manufactured by Daktronics was installed. In addition, the four main speaker racks were removed and replaced and two additional speaker racks were added. The new scoreboard features four large HD video screens, surrounded by two 360-degree LED ribbon boards. The bottom of the board features large Buffalo Sabres logos with giant sabres crossed behind them. The handles of the sabres are lit with blue LEDs. The Sabres logos shoot smoke out of the Buffalo's nostrils every time a Sabres goal is scored or when the Sabres win at home.


Renovation #1

The first update to the arena took place after the conclusion of the 1998-1999 hockey season. 95 seats were added behind the last row of the 300 level, raising the arena's hockey and lacrosse capacity from 18,595 to 18,690.

Renovation #2

The second update to the arena took place in 2002-2003, when the Sabres replaced matrix board on the face of the second bowl with a LED ribbon. The original seamless glass boards were also removed, and replaced with boards with clear plastic stanchions, which gave when players were hit into them.

Renovation #3

The third update to KeyBank Center took place for the 2007-2008 season. Two illuminated Sabres logos were added in the upper level of the pavilion on both sides of the Sports Headlines bar. Also, new LED ribbon boards were installed in the arena seating bowl in conjunction with the new HD scoreboard. Later in 2008, a mural was installed in the lower pavilion near the main entrance, containing pictures from the 2008 NHL Winter Classic held at Ralph Wilson Stadium, now known as New Era Field, in nearby Orchard Park.

Renovation #4

The fourth update took place during the summer and early fall of 2011. The major renovation included the demolition and installation of brand new locker rooms, decor and concession updates as well as fan enhancements. This $6 million locker room project[19] led by Cannon Design of Grand Island saw an expansion from 8,000 to 15,220 square feet (743 to 1,414 m2) in size. The new Sabres locker room is designed as a circular room, complete with illuminated team logos on the floor and ceiling. Additional new facilities include a state of the art fitness center, new coaching offices, film rooms where players and coaches can watch previous games, and a players lounge with a kitchen and team chef. Also, the new Sabres locker room features a Wall of Fame featuring team history, the names and numbers of retired team jerseys. Limestones that were salvaged from the former Buffalo Memorial Auditorium are surrounded by glass, which features the names of all team players throughout franchise existence. Visiting team locker rooms were also expanded from 3,230 to 3,511 square feet (300.1 to 326.2 m2). Finally, a new post-game interview room was also built. In addition to the new locker rooms and training facilities, the public spaces within the arena were also upgraded.[20]

Also as part of the update, the arena took on the Sabres Blue and Gold color scheme inside the arena bowl. It replaced the red color used on the team logo from 1996 to 2006. The previous Sabres logo (known infamously as the "Buffaslug", and used from 2006 to 2010) was removed from the scoreboard and replaced with the current logo. All of the original TV sets were replaced with new HDTVs. New food choices were added as part of the upgraded concessions.[21] Signage was replaced or upgraded where needed. Restrooms saw cup holders and HDTVs added for fan convenience.[22] Also, new chimes were added, which sound two minutes prior to the opening faceoff each period. This lets fans know to head towards the seating areas.[23] Finally, the Sports Headlines bar has now been replaced by the Labatt Blue Zone.[24]

The ice rink itself also saw a multimillion-dollar upgrade with adding a new dehumidifier system and cooling tower.[25] All of the Zamboni machines were replaced and upgraded to feature laser beam leveling. These upgrades improve the quality of the ice surface.[22] Outside, a new LED ribbon board was added to the entrance pavilion which can display upcoming events, scores, and team information, though it was subsequently removed to make way for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge to the adjacent LECOM Harborcenter complex in 2014.[26]

Renovation #5 The fifth update[27] features the creation of the Tops Markets Alumni Plaza.[28] In July 2012, the space located between the arena's entrance pavilion and the parking ramp saw the concrete bridge columns covered with brick. All of the team members that the Buffalo Sabres have had throughout existence are now featured on plaques that are mounted to the bricks. In addition, fans of the Sabres are able to purchase custom plaques that will be featured alongside the team members.[29] Alumni Plaza's centerpiece is a 10' high bronze statue of The French Connection. These renovations were completed in October 2012.

Renovation #6

The sixth update included multiple changes, including modifying the entrance pavilion due to the LECOM Harborcenter construction. That building is attached to the arena by an elevated walkway. LECOM Harborcenter is a mid-rise building with 2 hockey rinks, a Marriott hotel, retail space, IMPACT Training facility, restaurants including 716 Food and Sport and flagship Tim Hortons and a parking garage. Construction began in early 2013, while the restaurants and rinks opened in late October 2014. The elevated walkway connecting the KeyBank Center and LECOM Harborcenter buildings was completed and opened in early 2015, while the Marriott hotel opened in the summer of 2015. Also, after the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres season, the Sabres added 380 seats, mainly as an additional row in the 200 level, to raise the arena's capacity to 19,070. This number is symbolic of the team's founding in 1970.[30] In 2013, the Buffalo Sabres announced that all 80 luxury suites would be renovated over a 3-year period. All suites will now feature the Sabres Blue and Gold color scheme, 50" TVs, new carpeting, new furniture and gathering islands. Construction began on this project in July 2013.[31]

Renovation #7

The seventh update took place during the summer of 2016 on the exterior due to the renaming from First Niagara Center to KeyBank Center. The entrance canopies that featured hockey images were replaced.[32] New exterior signage was installed during the week of August 11, 2016 and KeyBank debuted the rebranded arena on September 19, 2016.[16] Also, a new LED lighting system was installed by Ephesus. This allows the arena to provide better lighting while significantly reducing the number of light fixtures needed and reducing energy consumption.[33]


HSBC Arena during a Buffalo Sabres game
HSBC Arena during the 2008 National Lacrosse League Champion's Cup game

Ice hockey

The Buffalo Sabres its first regular season home game at the then called Marine Midland Arena on October 8, 1996.[34]

In 2003, the arena hosted the Frozen Four NCAA Ice Hockey tournament. The arena was also host to a house party for the 2008 NHL Winter Classic. Festivities included the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team playing in pre-game action, followed by the Winter Classic shown on the scoreboard. From December 2010 to January 2011, the arena hosted the IIHF World Junior Championship tournament. During the 2012 NHL lockout, the arena hosted several Rochester Americans games and continues to host occasional Americans games at the arena. In October 2014, the arena hosted its first Ontario Hockey League contest, a neutral-site game between the Erie Otters (who counted among its players marquee prospect Connor McDavid) and the Niagara IceDogs.[35] The arena hosted the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The arena also hosted games three, four, and six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Eventually, the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup on the arena ice in game six in the sixth overtime.

Other sports

KeyBank Center is home to the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. The arena was the home of the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League, the Buffalo Blizzard of the National Professional Soccer League II and the Buffalo Wings of Roller Hockey International during each team's brief existence. The arena also is used regularly for college basketball games and hosts concerts.

The arena has been home to the NCAA (2000, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014, 2017) and MAAC (1997, 1999, 2001, 2005) men's basketball tournaments.

The arena was the centerpiece of a longshot bid to bring the National Basketball Association back to Buffalo by luring the Vancouver Grizzlies; the Grizzlies instead relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001.[36] Particularly during the early years of the arena's operations, the NBA's Toronto Raptors played occasional preseason games in the arena.

On April 8, 2017, KeyBank Center hosted UFC 210: Cormier vs. Johnson 2, which was the first UFC event held in Buffalo for over 20 years.[37]


The arena is also a regular stop for major concert tours and is the largest regular concert venue in Buffalo proper (it is one of four regular stops in Western New York for concert tours, the others being the performing arts center at Darien Lake , New Era Field, and The Rapids Theatre). In March 2015, the arena hosted country music legend Garth Brooks for a 4-night, 6 show, sold out string of shows, bringing over 100,000 people to Downtown Buffalo. He also had his wife, Trisha Yearwood, along for the shows. It is a regular stop on Trans-Siberian Orchestra's annual circuit. For 2016, the arena hosted multiple concerts including Kanye West, Blake Shelton, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato with Nick Jonas and Maroon 5 and AC/DC so far. In 2017, Ariana Grande performed at the arena, in support for her Dangerous Woman Tour, on February 21. Country music power couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will be bringing their Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017 to Key Bank Center on October 27, 2017. This tour makes the first time the couple has toured in over 10 years (Soul2Soul II Tour). A live recording of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's performance at the arena in 2009 titled HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY, 11/22/09 was released on December 24, 2016.


Date Main performer(s) Tour / Concert name Tickets sold Total gross notes
December 5 Celine Dion Courage World Tour[38]


In its ice hockey/indoor lacrosse configuration, the KeyBank Center can seat 19,070 spectators. In the event that the arena is being used for a concert, basketball game or other event that does not require the entire 200×85 surface, the total number can increase, accounting for seats or standing space on the arena's floor. Both sporting events and concerts at the arena are served by the Special Events station of the Buffalo Metro Rail.

Professional wrestling

KeyBank Center hosted several professional wrestling events from both WCW and WWE. This included TV tapings of Monday Nitro, Raw is War, SmackDown, ECW, Superstars, Main Event, & NXT. In addition they hosted several pay-per-view events, including:


See also


  1. ^ Collison, Kevin (November 3, 1994). "Sabres Alumni Game to Cap Arena Event 5,000 Expected for Groundbreaking". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ a b 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634-1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History. 20 (4): 469-505. JSTOR 1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800-present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800-". Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "HSBC Arena". Ellerbe Becket. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ "2011-12 Buffalo Sabres Media Guide" [Arena Information] (PDF). Hockey Western New York, LLC. Retrieved 2013.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "First Niagara Center".
  7. ^ "Buffalo Sabres home arena changing names to KeyBank Center". National Hockey League. May 11, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ Fink, James (May 12, 2016). "First Niagara Center to be renamed KeyBank Center". The Business Journals. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Home of the Sabres to be renamed First Niagara Center". Buffalo Sabres. August 25, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Vogl, John (August 25, 2011). "HSBC Arena to Become First Niagara Center". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ Vogl, John (August 25, 2011). "First Niagara, Sabres Feel They're Part of a Hot Team as Bank aquires [sic] Arena Naming Rights". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  12. ^ Newberg, Rich (August 25, 2011). "Sabres Home to be Called First Niagara Center". WIVB. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ "Better Together". KeyBank. October 30, 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Simon, Mitch (May 11, 2016). "First Niagara Center to receive new name". WKBW-TV. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ "KeyBank Center Press Release" (Press release). KeyBank Center. September 19, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ a b Kline, Allissa (August 11, 2016). "Sign of the times appearing at First Niagara Center". Buffalo Business First. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "Call it LECOM Harborcenter, after naming rights deal". The Buffalo News. September 10, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "CR4 - Blog Entry: November 16, 1996: The Buffalo Jumbotron Accident".
  19. ^ Fink, James (July 7, 2011). "Sabres Spending $6M on Arena Upgrades". WKBW. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ First Niagara Center Upgrades Wow Fans & Players. October 13, 2011.
  21. ^ "Excitement before Sabres' first home game of season". Your News Now. October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  22. ^ a b Simon, Howard (November 13, 2011). "Sabres-Toronto". WGR. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ Richert, George (October 14, 2011). "Pegulas Pull Out the Stops for Opener". WIVB. Retrieved 2011.
  24. ^ "A-Z Guide". First Niagara Center. Western New York Hockey, LLC. Archived from the original on November 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  25. ^ Shaw, Bryan (September 12, 2011). "New Ice Laid Down at First Niagara Center". WIVB. Retrieved 2011.
  26. ^ Lenihan, Emily (October 12, 2011). "Ribbon Board Up at First Niagara Center". WIVB. Retrieved 2011.
  27. ^ Lionti, Kaitlyn (July 12, 2012). "Sabres Announce Plans for 'Alumni Plaza'". Your News Now. Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ "Tops Markets Named Title Sponsor of Alumni Plaza". Western New York Hockey LLC. October 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  29. ^ "Sabres to Create Alumni Plaza in Front of FNC". WGRZ. July 12, 2012. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  30. ^ Vogl, John (December 27, 2012). "Only Single Seats Remain for Amerks' Game in Buffalo on Friday As Team Will Set Franchise Attendance Record". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  31. ^ "Sabres put a new shine on First Niagara suites". Retrieved 2018.
  32. ^ "First Niagara Ctr. begins rebranding process". Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ "Buffalo Sabres Enhance Fan Experience and Energy Efficiency at the First Niagara Center with Eaton's Advanced LED Lighting and Controls System - Ephesus Lighting". Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ Ah, the memories: 20 years at the 'new' downtown arena - Mike Harrington, Buffalo News, 8 October 2016
  36. ^ "Buffalo joins cities trying to lure Grizzlies out of Vancouver". Canadian Television Network. February 21, 2001. Archived from the original on March 10, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  37. ^ "UFC 210 at KeyBank Center". KeyBank Center. Retrieved 2017.
  38. ^

External links

Preceded by
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
Home of the
Buffalo Sabres

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
Home of the
Buffalo Bandits

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
Home of the
Canisius Golden Griffins

1996 - 1998
Succeeded by
Koessler Athletic Center
Preceded by
Xcel Energy Center
St. Paul, Minnesota
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Boston, Massachusetts
Preceded by
Credit Union Centre
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and Brandt Centre
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Host of the
IIHF World Junior Championship

Succeeded by
Scotiabank Saddledome
Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Rexall Place
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Preceded by
Bell Centre
Montreal and Air Canada Centre
Host of the
IIHF World Junior Championship

Succeeded by

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