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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 42-A Marine Midland Arena

42-A Marine Midland Arena

42-A Marine Midland Arena Historic
Cobblestone District Sports and Entertainment Complex
Watercolor on paper 20" x 28" 1999

The magnificent Marine Midland Arena, the crown jewel of Buffalo's waterfront revitalization efforts, is a $127.5 million state-of-the-art multiuse facility designed by the architectural firm of Ellerbe Becket which seats 18,600 for hockey, 21 000 for basketball and 19,500 for concerts, ice shows and other major events. The 300 foot long, 65 foot high glass-enclosed entrance pavilion can seat 800 for a dinner function and hold 2,500 for a reception. The arena is home to the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Bandits (NLL), the Buffalo Blizzard (NPSL), Big 4 Basketball (NCAA) and its major tenant, the Buffalo Sabres (NHL).

The Knox brothers, Seymour III and Northrup, principles in the birth of the Buffalo Sabres hockey franchise in 1969, had long championed a new home for the Sabres hockey team to replace the 1938-1940's era Memorial Auditorium which had been home to the earlier American Hockey League Buffalo Bisons and to the Sabres since 1970. Seymour Knox was largely credited with assembling a private funding package of $67.5 million which was matched by public funds from the local and state level. The inaugural hockey game was held in the new arena on September 21, 1996 shortly after the death of Mr. Knox.

In the spring of 1998 the Buffalo Sabres were sold to cable pioneer John J. Rigas, founder of Adelphia Communications in 1952 which also operates the Empire Sports Network, who was brought into the Sabres organization in 1994 as a principal investor. Northrup Knox, who had succeeded his brother as chairman of the Sabres franchise in 1996, passed away in July of 1998.

The site chosen for the arena, known as the "Crossroads," is adjacent to Buffalo's extant 19th century ties to the Erie Canal-era waterfront. In 1993, largely through the efforts of the Preservation Coalition of Erie County and with the cooperation of the city's administration, Common Council and the Buffalo Sabres hockey organization, this area was designated as the "Cobblestone Historic District."

In a remarkable community effort during the summer of 1997, hosts of volunteers under the aegis of the Preservation Coalition, gathered to begin the process of "repaving" Illinois Street. in the heart of the district by cleaning, processing and resetting hundreds of sandstone blocks, some of which had been in place since 1836.