Written by Kevin Oklobzija, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
With no end in sight to the NHL lockout, another Rochester Americans home game is being moved to Buffalo's First Niagara Center, and this time it's a weekend game.
The Friday, Dec. 28 game against the Lake Erie Monsters will be played in downtown Buffalo at 7:05 p.m., the second time the parent Sabres have shifted a game to their rink.
The Oct. 23 game at the First Niagara Center against the Hamilton Bulldogs drew 10,936.
Even if the NHL lockout ends, the game still will be played in Buffalo. The NHL has canceled games only through Dec. 14 but Dec. 28 is an open date on the First Niagara calendar.
The game was chosen based on the Amerks home calendar: Four games in a six-game stretch. The Amerks and Monsters play in Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester Community War Memorial on Dec. 26 - a traditional big-draw date for the Amerks - and are also at home to play the Binghamton Senators on Dec. 29 and Hamilton on Dec. 31.
"There's a little compression in the market with four games in six days so we wanted to relieve a little of that market fatigue," Sabres president Ted Black said.
The Amerks have averaged 6,740 for seven games at the War Memorial. Six of those games have been on Fridays, for which the average is 7,356. Two of the past three home games drew more than 8,300.
But if the lockout has not ended, a Friday night game in Buffalo during the holiday school break will surely draw in excess of 14,000, and probably more.
While that means extra ticket revenue for the Sabres organization, that's not the only motivation, Black said.
"There are Buffalo fans in Rochester and I want to make sure there are Amerk fans in Buffalo," Black said. "By choosing that Friday game, we do want to expose more Buffalo fans to the Amerks."
Fans who already have a ticket for the Dec. 28 game have three options: 1) Exchange it for a ticket to that game in Buffalo; 2) exchange it for a ticket to another Amerk game in Rochester; 3) request a refund.
The Amerks also switched the television broadcast schedule. The Dec. 28 game will now be shown on Time Warner Cables SportsChannel; the Dec. 7 game has been dropped.