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Report: Sabres want a say in making improvements to substandard Rochester arena

The arena in Rochester needs major improvements, according to the Buffalo Sabres, and they want a larger say in making the building better.

As owners of the Rochester Americans, the Sabres are the primary tenants in BlueCross Arena. They don’t believe the building is suitable for hosting even an NHL preseason game, so they canceled plans to hold one there, according the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

“We don’t feel the facility is up to the standards to play an NHL game,” Sabres President Russ Brandon told the newspaper Tuesday, adding the issues are wide-ranging, “from suite level all the way down to how we prepare our hockey team.”

The arena, built in 1955, underwent a $41 million renovation a decade ago. Rochester recently received $10 million from New York State for improvements, according to the newspaper, and the Sabres would like a say in how the money is spent. Brandon pointed out how a similar partnership helped in renovations to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Being the largest tenant, we would like to have more control and active discussion in how the dollars that come in are appropriated,” Brandon told the paper. “We’re going to need some changes down the road to ensure viability.

“There’s exciting plans for the downtown corridor in Rochester, and we want to be a part of it. The arena can be a real beacon for downtown, and right now it’s far from that.”

The Sabres reportedly were set to play a preseason game in Rochester on Sept. 26, but they instead will face Minnesota in Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State. Sabres owner Terry Pegula provided the funding for the building. The Sabres’ preseason schedule is expected to be released Wednesday.

Two years ago, the Sabres examined moving half of the Amerks’ home schedule to Buffalo.

“Our goal,” Brandon said, “is to play every game in Rochester in an improved facility.”

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