The Buffalo Sabres' popular game night "Party in the Plaza" will see some key changes, starting this evening.
The outdoor party is going "alcohol-free" through the rest of the playoff run. And as of tonight, when Round Two begins with a home-opening game against the New York Rangers, Perry Street will be closed to vehicle traffic between Washington and Illinois streets.
Also, the police presence will be stepped up, according to Buffalo Police Department spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge. "The Party in the Plaza has continued to grow with each game, and it's become much more family-oriented, so we decided to end beer sales and give everybody more room," said Sabres communications chief Michael Gilbert. "Our first priority is to make it fun and safe for everybody who wants to come down."
Those using the HSBC Arena parking garage will be able to access Illinois Street by traveling west on Perry Street, but there will be no access to Perry Street from Washington Street.
The plaza party, which kicks off with pregame entertainment and activities, followed by a live game broadcast on a 9-by-12-foot outdoor video screen, has become incredibly popular for Sabres fans who want to be part of the action but lack tickets to the sold-out games.
During Friday's Game 5 Sabres victory, which sent the New York Islanders packing, upwards of 4,000 enthusiastic fans watched the game on the outdoor screen.
"Based on what we saw in Round One, this is only going to get bigger and bigger. As the playoffs continue, there's the potential for thousands more to come down to the arena to be part of the experience," Gilbert said.
Tonight's "Party in the Plaza" will start at 4:30 p.m. with music by "Strictly Hip," a popular local "Tragically Hip" tribute band. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be served at the event.
Fans are reminded that coolers and chairs are not allowed at the arena plaza event.