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Shut-out fans to get shot at Ice Bowl Many of $10 seats too low for good view of the action

That family of four that felt shut out of the sold-out Ice Bowl hockey game being played in Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year's Day still may have a shot at some reasonably priced tickets.

The Buffalo Sabres plan to announce today that 4,500 seats with obstructed views will go on sale at noon today, on the Sabres' Web site, for the Sabres-Pittsburgh Penguins game. The seats, many of them too low for a good view of the action, are priced at $10 apiece.

The team also is expected to reveal that the Sabres will be wearing their original white jerseys, while the Penguins will be outfitted in powder blue.

There are two catches to the Sabres' plans for the newly available 4,500 seats:

*This is not a first-come, first-served offer, and no fans need to be poised at their computer terminals at 12:01 p.m.

Prospective buyers, who have to submit a credit card number, will have a week to sign up for up to four seats, with a random draw determining who gets the tickets. Winners and losers will be notified the first week of December.

*At least one of the people in any group of ticket purchasers must be age 16 or younger.

To show that the Sabres are serious about this, each group of tickets will contain one color-coded ticket that an adult can't use for admission.

Any group of two, three or four people with those tickets will not be admitted without a child, the team says.

The Sabres clearly hope that the first outdoor National Hockey League game in the United States will be an experience that none of their fans ever will forget.

While the Sabres don't want, in any way, to minimize the importance of the hockey game being played that day, they also believe the whole outdoor venue will create a one-of-a-kind event.

"I think the experience of being there will be very, very special and will help grow our sport in America," Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said. "We know that our future is with kids who fall in love with the game. My guess is that any fan [16 or under] who goes to the game will be a hockey fan for life."

The new tickets, all in the first 15 rows of the stadium's lower bowl, became available only after league and NBC officials determined which seats weren't needed for TV cameras, other technical equipment and the announcing crews.

"When I say obstructed seats, you will not have a clear sight line to the ice surface itself, because of the elevation of the seats," Quinn said, emphasizing that some seats will have better views than others.

In addition to those 4,500 seats, the Sabres also plan to announce that they will donate another 500 seats to various youth groups, including Hasek's Heroes, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, Kids Escaping Drugs, Compeer, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Summit Educational Resources, Big Brothers Big Sisters and FATHERS (Fathers Armed Together to Help Educate, Restore and Save).

Moving to the fashion elements of the game, the Sabres will reveal that they will wear their original white jerseys from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, complete with the drawstrings, while the Penguins will wear the powder-blue jerseys they donned in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"It's a classic game, and I think there's a sense from us, the NHL and the Penguins that we wanted to have classic uniforms," Quinn said. "We wanted to make everything about this event as unique and special as we could."

"This white jersey is something we may never wear again," Quinn said.

He hopes the Sabres faithful in the stands will follow suit.

"I think it would be great for our team to skate out there and see 50,000 people wearing their classic white Sabres jerseys -- above their ski parkas."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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