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Off Main Street: First Niagara’s Penguin power

First Niagara’s Penguin power

First Niagara Center is on its way to being renamed KeyBank Center this fall, as Key prepares to acquire First Niagara Financial Group.

It has been noted that the Buffalo Sabres have failed to make the playoffs since First Niagara put its name on the arena in 2011. (No pressure, Key). But First Niagara has a far better track record in Pittsburgh, where it became the “official bank of the Penguins” in 2010.

The Penguins have made the playoffs every year since that sponsorship started, and the team is now in the Stanley Cup final.

If you’re still looking for a bright spot back home, consider the Buffalo Bandits. They have qualified for the playoffs in all but one year of the First Niagara name era, and they’re playing for the indoor lacrosse championship starting Saturday.

A “Bazaar” destination

How seriously do we take lists here at Off Main Street?

Very seriously, especially when they include Buffalo with the likes of such upscale summer destinations as Martha’s Vineyard, Newport, R.I., and Charleston, S.C.

That’s right. Buffalo ranked No. 2 on a list by Harper’s Bazaar of the top 17 places to vacation this summer in the U.S., right behind the Hamptons and ahead of Martha’s Vineyard. And, no, we’re not talking about a list from Harper’s “Bizarre,” either. Kerry Pieri, digital fashion and features editor for Harper’s online edition, included the Queen City on the list, not merely because her brother and sister-in-law happen to own Cecilia’s restaurant on Elmwood Avenue.

Some of the food available here, she noted, is “incredible” and “elevated.” There’s also a “fantastic cocktail list” at Buffalo Proper on Franklin Street and, of course, the Darwin Martin House and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to recommend. Apparently, these very local attractions stack up well against a ferry ride to Sag Harbor from the Hamptons, a stay at the Ocean Edge Resort in Cape Cod and shopping at the Webster in Miami’s South Beach.

Who knew that, all along, the best summer vacation could be a “stay-cation” in our own backyard?

A tidy profit

Former Bills defensive end Mario Williams put his 9,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home up for sale this month at an asking price of $3 million.

According to ESPN, which quoted real estate website, that would make the sprawling mansion, 15 minutes from Ralph Wilson Stadium, the most expensive home currently on the market in Western New York.

“If you’re keeping track at home, Williams had more bathrooms (nine) in his Buffalo-area house than he had sacks (5.0) for the Bills last season,” said ESPN staff writer Mike Rodak, who noted that Williams bought the home in June 2012 for a modest $494,915, three months after signing a six-year, $100 million contract with the Bills.

How the property appreciated $2.5 million in three years is, perhaps, best left for a Realtor to explain.

Rodak also noted that Williams netted $66.6 million from the Bills before he left to play for the Miami Dolphins, which signed Williams to a two-year, $17 million contract in March.

Ninja obstacle course

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans might not want to remain buried in their shells for this one.

Buffalo Harbor State Park is about to become an obstacle course to coincide with the release of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

Scenes from the now-wrapped film were shot right here in Buffalo a little over a year ago, which, no doubt, was a bit of a hurdle for some motorists accustomed to traveling the Kensington Expressway. An American Ninja obstacle course of a different sort will be set up next weekend along the Outer Harbor to commemorate those heady days and, of course, tie in with the premiere of the movie.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Matthew Glynn. email: