When Russ Brandon was a student at St. John Fisher College during the late 1980s, he was a regular at Rochester Americans games. He wants to improve the experience for today’s Amerks patrons.
The Sabres are examining their affiliation with Rochester, and part of their decision to renew will be upgrades to Blue Cross Arena. The sides don’t have a deal for next season.
“We’re going to continue to work with the officials in Rochester,” Brandon, the president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, said Wednesday. “Obviously, it’s a very important regional element for us. We’ll continue to discuss that when there’s another general manager in place and head coach in place.
"It’s a very important affiliation to the Buffalo Sabres.”
The Sabres, who are under PSE’s ever-widening umbrella, are searching for a GM and coach after firing Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma last week.
The Sabres and Amerks have a long history as affiliates, linked from 1979 to 2007 and 2011 to the present. The Sabres for years have said the Amerks’ arena needs significant upgrades. The organization has worked to develop the area around KeyBank Center, including Friday’s announcement of a development with Labatt USA, and Brandon said Buffalo wants the opportunity to make similar changes in Rochester.
“What we really we want to have,” Brandon said, “is a public-private partnership with the mayor – they’ve been very responsive – with the state, and look at the arena holistically and see what makes sense for us as a business and then from a hockey team standpoint.
“From a business standpoint, we just want to continue enhance the experience for our fans. As someone who went to college there and went to loads of Amerks games, it’s a very important part of that community. We just want to continue to enhance.”