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Sabres Finalize Purchase of Webster Block

12:10 AM, Mar 9, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres finalized their purchase of the Webster Block Friday, marking another significant step forward for the HARBORcenter project.

Mayor Byron Brown (D-Buffalo) and Cliff Benson, the team's Chief Development Officer, attended a deed-signing ceremony in the atrium of First Niagara Center.

Work has already started on the $172 million multipurpose facility that will sit directly across from the arena in the city's Canalside District. A ground-breaking is expected as soon as next month.

The structure will be anchored by two new ice rinks that will be open for community use by September of 2014, officials said.  A 200-room, full-service hotel is expected to open in May of 2015.

Sabres officials would not say who would operate the new hotel, although the Marriott hotel chain has been rasied in connection with the project in the past.

In addition to the ice rinks and hotel, there are plans for a hockey-themed, upscale restaurant and bar, additional retail space and an 850-space parking structure. HARBORcenter will have 18 floors when complete.

Planners anticipate that 500,000 people a year will be visit the new HARBORcenter -- a number greater than the number of fans who attend Buffalo Bills games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a season, or roughly 1,300 people per day. The project is expected to create 350 new jobs for the area.

The facility will be directly connected to First Niagara Center and the combined structure will be the only three-pad ice complex in the National Hockey League.  Additionally, the structure will house a hockey "center of excellence," which will be designed to help grow and develop the sport of hockey in the region.

Bensen said the closest comparison to the sports themed bar and restaurant part of the project, which is hoped to become a downtown favorite, would be the Real Sports Bar and Grill which is located near the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont.

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