Last night the NHL was back in action, and I was at the game. Going to a Buffalo Sabres game in Buffalo is thought of as a great time. While the pregame pit stop at the local bar is a good time the Sabres game and experience leaves a lot to be desired.
The night got started at Iron Works an old warehouse turned sports, and music venue. It’s a nice spot to have a beer or two before talking the short walk to the First Niagara Center. The drink prices and food prices are very fair. There are a few TV’s and the owners kept the charm of the brick and word structure. But, sadly that is where your good time might end.
I entered the FNC around 6:30, and you could hear crickets. There was little to no fan involvement, poor music playing, and an overall feeling of disconnect. The Sabres need to find a way to get the fans involved, and the on ice product is not going to do that for them. There is almost nothing going inside the arena. I had a guy sitting behind me who is from Toronto, and has Toronto Maple Leafs tickets. He couldn’t believe how dull and lifeless the FNC was.
Now, don’t get me wrong the Sabres are a bad team in the middle of a rebuild, and there is more than a little uncertainty surrounding several of the team’s top players. But, that doesn’t excuse the Sabres poor fan experience. Ticket prices are not high if you take the NHL average ticket price, but in Western New York prices are at their max. Sabres fans love hockey and always have, but it’s getting harder and harder to justify spending hard-earned money to see a bad team, and experience a bad event.
When the on ice product falls short the fan experience needs to bridge the gap.