The Sabres want to have more of a say regarding their minor-league arena and improvements that should be made to it. One negotiating tactic was reportedly threatening to move half of the Amerks’ games from Rochester to Buffalo.
It won’t happen next season, Sabres and Amerks President Ted Black said Thursday, but he made no comment on future years.
“The Amerks will play all of their home games at the Blue Cross War Memorial next year, save the annual game that we bring here,” Black said in Buffalo. “Beyond that, we issued a statement and we don’t have anything further to add.”
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Sabres met with Rochester officials in February to discuss the arena. While most of the talk was about upgrading the building – including adding suites and boxes – the team made it clear that moving games out of Rochester was an option.
Terry Pegula owns both franchises. The Sabres have brought one or two Amerks games to First Niagara Center annually.
“The Buffalo Sabres have engaged in several lease discussions with the City of Rochester to secure a suitable, long-term lease for the Rochester Americans to play at Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial," Black said in his statement. “It's important for hockey fans in Rochester and the Amerks organization to have a suitable building to play their home games for many years to come.”
Asked a second time about the topic Thursday in HarborCenter, Black said: “I think I’ve spoken on the Amerks as much as I’m prepared to.”
The Rochester newspaper reported that the city, Amerks and building manager SMG all lose money on the arena. SMG’s lease runs out in 2016, while the Sabres have been extending a year-to-year lease since 2013.
A consultant’s report on potential upgrades to the arena is expected next month, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.