Harbor Center Schedule Packed Months Before Opening
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The list of teams ready to play at the Buffalo Sabres' new Harbor Center is growing.
First it was Canisius College, then the Junior Sabres (which include six AAA teams plus another in a higher level), The Buffalo Royals, and Erie Community College all committed to play their home games at the Harbor Center. That list doesn't include the Harbor Center's Academy of Hockey, 20 tournaments from the rinks' opening until March, and a program that will allow area youth teams to schedule practice time at the facility.
Where does all this ice time come from?
"It's funny you talk about this," said Harbor Center Director of Hockey Nik Fatty. "We're looking at our schedule now and we're looking at 7:00 in the morning until midnight right now, and who knows where it could go based on demand and time. Everyone wants to be a part of this, and we've had great partners and great people interested. Right now we're trying to fit all the pieces in."
Should we expect to see more hockey partnerships with Harbor Center in the future? Harbor Center President John Koelmel says that remains to be seen. "We have two rinks, and 360 days a year which we can be open for business, so our inventory is fixed," Koelmel said.
"It's not your typical organization where if you work harder you can produce more. We have a fixed supply of resource to make available, and for us it's how we put the pieces of the puzzle together."
How is Harbor Center getting so many commitments from area teams? After all, the building is still very much a construction site with more steel beams than walls visible.
"People that are here at the Harbor Center have been really upfront with us," said ECC Athletic Director Peter Jerepko. "Everything that they've told us as far as our schedule and their commitment has been spot on, and we're really confident that we'll be ready to go." Jerepko and ECC Head Coach Gary Rost both talked about the prestige that comes with playing in a new facility, especially one operated by an NHL team.
Fatty says that although the clock continues to move closer to the start of next hockey season, his crew isn't sweating yet. "I don't know if anyone's really feeling pressure, we're just so excited. No concerns."
Just because the Harbor Center already has a packed schedule doesn't mean there isn't any time for fans to enjoy the building. Fatty says that they also have an open skate scheduled for the public before Sabres home games.