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Reviving the Buffalo waterfront with Buffalo RiverWorks

Buffalonians talk about revitalized sport scene in downtown Buffalo

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There are two new outdoor hockey rinks at 359 Ganson St.

The street hosts the newest addition to the Buffalo waterfront, Buffalo RiverWorks. The sports and entertainment complex will eventually become a 6,000-seat entertainment and recreation venue.

On Dec. 1, members of the Buffalo Curling Club hosted an invitational opening ceremony at Buffalo RiverWorks. This soft opening of the rink was part of the $18 million project to rejuvenate the Buffalo waterfront area for recreational purposes.

By February 2015, Buffalo RiverWorks is expected to include a restaurant, three bars and will allow public access to the twin professional-sized outdoor ice rinks located under a 50,000-square-foot open-air roof.

RiverWorks is one of multiple projects in place to improve the downtown area.

It will complement HarborCenter – a 1.7-acre city-owned venue for public hockey that opened in 2012. The complex includes two NHL-sized rinks, Tim Hortons, a Marriott Hotel and 716 Food and Sport Bar.

Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, Bandits and Bills, has been revolutionizing the Buffalo sport scene since purchasing the Sabres in February 2011.

The multi-billion dollar philanthropist and hometown Buffalonian owns the two-floor sports themed restaurant inside the HarborCenter. Pegula, known for philanthropy in the Buffalo area, has been constantly expanding the culture of Buffalo.

“I praise Terry Pegula,” said Patrick McKowne, a senior media study major. “Obviously this is going to create more jobs and hopefully bring revenue to the city. Not only that, but also put Buffalo back on the map. Pegula is helping this city more than just making it prosperous – he’s giving us the opportunity to enjoy life.”

A year after construction on RiverWorks began, the rinks are open to ice sport leagues including curling and hockey, like the Buffalo Curling Club.

Danielle Buchbinder, president of the curling club, thinks once the complex is finished and open, it’s going to be “quite amazing.”

“I think the RiverWorks project exemplifies that they’re people who really care about the city of Buffalo,” she said.

RiverWorks, built on a former gran elevator complex, pays homage to Buffalo and the city’s industrial past. It’s located down the road from the General Mills factory and Silo City, another renovated grain elevator that has been transformed into a destination for local artists to perform and for tourists to go rock climbing.

“They’re really trying to bring Buffalo together,” said Jesse Koester, a former UB management graduate and homegrown Buffalonian. “Downtown Buffalo has been declining over the past few years. But ever since Pegula came here, he’s really been trying to change the image and bring downtown Buffalo back to life. It makes me really excited for the future and real excited to still be living here.”

Others, such as Julien Kann, a senior biochemistry major, are excited to “take hockey back to its roots” – the outdoors. Kann is already preparing for the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, which will take place later in February.

Buffalo will host the NHL Draft in 2016 at First Niagara Center, while HarborCenter will host the NHL rookie combine for the next two years.

The waterfront sport scene is not completed yet but it shows signs of longevity and traditional culture of the area.

email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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