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SABRES LOOK TO THE RAILS TO ATTRACT OUT-OF-TOWN FANS TO BUFFALO GAMES

The Buffalo Sabres are joining forces with Amtrak and Santo Tours and Travel to bring out-of-town fans to Buffalo via train.

The Sabres and their travel partners have put together travel packages, which include transportation, hotel and game tickets for six home games.

The special travel promotion targets hockey fans in the central and eastern parts of the state who have convenient access to Amtrak's Empire line, according to Nick Toronto, Sabres director of new business.

"We see it as a great way to expand our base by reaching out to fans who can hop on a train and come to Buffalo for a game," Toronto said. "It helps us put fannies in seats, and it exposes out-of-towners to Buffalo and Marine Midland Arena."

The new hockey packages are available in one- and two-night versions, with one-night fans arriving at Buffalo's Exchange Street Amtrak station at 3 p.m. on game day and departing on the eastbound train at 2 p.m. the following day.

In the two-night packages, passengers will arrive and depart from Niagara Falls.

All the packages are built around Friday night games, except one, which is a Saturday night game. Game dates for the package trips are Oct. 17, Nov. 15, Nov. 28, Jan. 2, March 6 and April 3.

Unlike the popular Amtrak-Buffalo Bills train service, which offers separate cars for the sports fans, the hockey fans will be mixed in with other Amtrak passengers.

One-night packages will include travel from 10 stops east of Buffalo along the Amtrak Empire service route, stretching from New York City's Pennsylvania Station to Rochester. Travelers will stay downtown in the Radisson Suites Hotel and will view the game from $38 seats in the lower section of the arena.

Travelers selecting two-day packages will stay in the Skyline Foxhead Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ont., and will have an opportunity to visit Casino Niagara.

Prices, which will vary according to where the traveler boards the train will range from $99 per person for a quadruple occupancy room at the Radisson up to $299 per person for a single room at the Foxhead.

All booking is being done through Santo Tours and Travel of Cheektowaga. Christine Hoffman of Santo Tours said this is a new venture for the travel agency, which specializes in group tour packages.

"We've done Super Bowl trips, but this is the first one we've done involving individual hockey games," Mrs. Hoffman said. "We're starting to get into more sports packages this year. We'll be doing a trip from Buffalo to a Syracuse Orangemen football game this fall and are thinking about offering basketball trips to Syracuse."

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