Sports


by Matt Steinberg

Spring has come early to Buffalo, with sunshine and 60° temperatures the norm now. And with the onset of spring comes the opening of the Buffalo Bisons season. Today is Opening Day at Coca-Cola Field, as “the Herd” take on the Pawtucket Red Sox at 3:05. Baseball has a 125 year history in Buffalo, and Buffalonians have seen many major league stars-in-the-making. The Bisons had a rough year last season (as did the parent club, the New York Mets), but are bouncing back this year and are aiming at a return to the International League playoffs. And the game itself isn’t the only reason to come downtown this summer – there are promotions galore at the ballpark this year. There’s a pre-game party and post-game fireworks at every Friday home game, Father’s Day giveaways, celebrations of Irish, Hispanic, Polish and Italian heritage, the annual Independence Day celebration with the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra (and more fireworks, of course), appearances by Dora the Explorer and the Famous Chicken, and much more. Tickets are still Buffalo’s best entertainment value – the best seats are only $11 each! Major league quality action at very minor league prices. For more information, check out their website at www.Bisons.com.

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by Melissa Barrie

Buffalo has festivals and events almost all year long – except for that stretch between New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day. Now we have two events to fill in that gap and celebrate our winter weather – the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament and the Buffalo Powder Keg Festival. The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament started three years ago as a one day event of 16 teams competing on Lake Erie. Now in its third year, the tournament has expanded into a two-day event of 112 teams competing on eight different rinks. This year also marks the first ever Buffalo Powder Keg Festival. For those who are interested in additional winter activities besides hockey, the Buffalo Powder Keg Festival offers a variety of winter-themed events; there will even be a Seneca Street exit ramp tubing hill! The Powder Keg festival will take place from the One HSBC Tower Plaza to the Erie Basin Marina, where the Pond Hockey tournament will be located. Activities include kan-jam, broomball, bubble hockey, snowman-building competitions, Guinness Book Ice Maze, two ice-skating rinks, Pearl Street beer tent with live music, Kid’s tent, and many more! Both events take place February 27th-28th and are free, but some activities do require purchase or registration. Make sure you come out and take advantage of these winter activities before spring gets here!

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Erie Basin Marina
February 27th & 28th
7:30am-5pm

Buffalo Powder Keg Festival
In and around the southern end of downtown Buffalo, including the plaza surrounding HSBC Tower, multiple levels of the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, and neighboring parking lots
February 27th 8am-Midnight
February 28th 8am-6pm

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by Melissa Barrie

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hibernate – enjoy one of the many winter activities that Buffalo has to offer. My top ten include:

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Held on the last weekend in February, this tournament (pictured at left) has expanded into 112 teams battling for bragging rights on the icy shores of Lake Erie at the Erie Basin Marina. This year the event also coincides with the brand new Buffalo Powder Keg Festival – a list of possible events include snow volleyball, a chili cook-off, curling, and snow soccer.

Sledding in Delaware Park
Take your sled and enjoy the winter wonderland at Delaware Park.

Ice skating at Rotary Rink
Bring your own skates and skate for free at Fountain Plaza downtown, or rent skates at $2 for children and $3 for adults.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge
Get your wooden toboggans out and head to Chestnut Ridge Park, one of the only parks in the country with toboggan runs. They’re finally open this year after a four-year hiatus.

Tubing at Colden Tubing Company
Western New York’s largest downhill tubing park. Enjoy unlimited night tubing on Fridays 5-9pm for $15!
Hours: Friday 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturdays 10:00am – 9:00pm
Sundays 10:00am – 6:00pm

Skiing
With so many great ski resorts in this area to choose from, how will you make up your mind? Start here.

Snowshoeing
Enjoy the winter weather while taking a snow shoe hike. Snowshoe rentals are available during the winter at Tifft Nature Preserve and the Beaver Meadow Audobon Center.

Attend a Buffalo Sabres Game
Or a Buffalo Bandits game, or support your local college team for that matter. There are plenty to choose from – search here . Don’t forget about the NCAA Basketball Tournament here March 18th-21st!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Celebrate the last Sunday of winter with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Delaware Avenue. This year it falls on March 14th – more information can be found here.

Theater
If you’re not in the mood to brave the cold weather, take in a performance at one of our many local theaters.

What would your Top Ten things to do in Buffalo during the winter include?

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by Mark Utzig

NFMarathonThe time has come for another rendition of the one and only Niagara Falls International Marathon. Beginning in 1974, this truly unique and special event showcases marathon runners from around the world participating in a 26.2 mile cross-border pursuit. That’s right! This is the only marathon in the world that starts in one country and finishes in another. The event takes place on Sunday, October 25th, 2009 @ 10am. The competition starts by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and continues for 4 miles throughout the majestic parkways of beautiful Buffalo. The participants will then cross the Peace Bridge into the historic old town of Fort Erie, Ontario, where they then follow the Niagara River Parkway and finish at the magnificent Niagara Falls. All interested individuals must submit their entry forms by October 21st, 2009. For more information, please visit www.niagarafallsmarathon.com.

by Mark Utzig

SabresThe Buffalo Sabres are ready to jump into the mix this Saturday, October 3rd in Downtown’s HSBC Arena playing host to the Montreal Canadiens. Coming off an impresive preseason record of 4-2, the fast skating, young Sabre team will try and fend off the talented, veteran stacked Canadians. Our home team is trying to advance into the playoffs this year after going the past two seasons without. The action packed game is sure to be a fun-filled event. Looking for an upbeat place to stop before the game? Located within minutes from the Arena, Pearl Street Grill & Brewery is an excellent choice for a pregame drink and appetizer. So head downtown this Saturday and cheer on your hometown favorites. For more information regarding tickets or schedule, go to sabres.nhl.com.

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by Matt Steinberg

Bills50For fifty years, Buffalo Bills fans have used those words to root for the red, white and blue, starting at War Memorial Stadium and now at “the Ralph”. To celebrate the team’s golden anniversary, the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society is running an exhibit now until February 7, 2010, titled “It’s Amazing How Long a Moment Can Last”. It’s truly a multimedia event – in addition to traditional displays of artifacts, there is a touch screen with a trivia quiz, a booth to call a game as a play-by-play announcer, the complete broadcast of the famous “Greatest Comeback Ever” wild card playoff game, and a stirring History of the Bills film, produced by NFL Films. The film is really outstanding, letting me re-experience the 20 seasons that I remember, and telling me the story of the 30 years that are before my time. (I have to admit that I ducked out during Super Bowl XXV highlights, however – some memories are just too painful to relive.)

In addition to the video exhibits, the main hall of the building displays HUGE black and white and color photographic prints of notable Bills moments, including the memorable shot of Mike Stratton leveling Keith Lincoln in the 1964 AFL Championship Game, AKA “The Hit Heard Round the World”. Then go down the stairs to the main exhibit, which features jerseys, helmets, posters and other artifacts and ephemera of Bills past and present. It’s truly amazing the amount of tchotchkes that our team has inspired, from posters and figurines to cereal, tumblers, pins and buttons. One bit of the business of sports is also on display – one of Jim Kelly’s game checks from 1993 (it’s $83,000, in case you wonder what a Pro Bowl quarterback was paid per game back then). But the coolest part of the exhibit, in my opinion, are the uniforms. This was the first time that I’ve seen an example of the Bills original silver and blue jerseys and helmets, which are displayed along with game worn white “red standing bison” helmets and jerseys and shoes worn by O.J. Simpson, Bruce Smith and others.

Whether your favorite player was Cookie Gilchrist, Joe Ferguson, Thurman Thomas or Trent Edwards, the Historical Society is now a must-see for any Bills fan. For more information, go to www.buffalohistory.org.

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terrell-owens-bills

by Karen Huefner

Last week the Buffalo Bills revealed their schedule for the 2009 NFL season. With the addition of Terrell Owens to the team and a Monday Night season opener against New England (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding American Football League), this season has the potential to really wow Bills fans.

For those of you thinking about making a trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium this Fall to catch a game, here’s a few visitor tips:

  • TICKETS: Bills game tickets are some of the lowest in the league with an average per game price of $51.24.
  • PARKING: For alternative parking options, try the ECC (Erie Community College) lots across the street on Abbott Rd. Prices are always cheaper than the main lot.
  • HOTEL: The stadium is located in Orchard Park (a suburb 15 min. south of the city). Here’s a list of the closest hotels, although no hotel is truly that far.
  • WEATHER: If you’re sitting behind the Bills bench and the sun is shining, don’t forget your hat and sunglasses! The sun lingers for a majority of the game so be prepared. A Bills game in the snow is truly an experience and something Bills fans look forward to, if the mercury is dropping, layer up!
  • TAILGATING: No matter what time kickoff is or what the weather is outside, Bills fans love to tailgate so join the party! Food finds range from deep friend turkeys to chicken wings to the most elaborate of feasts. Take a tour of the parking lots to witness the fun!
  • GROUPS: Coming with your entourage? Group discounts are offered for parties of 15 or more.

For more information about attending a Bills game, visit www.buffalobills.com

For visitor information to Buffalo, leave a comment or email our Visitor Center at info@buffalocvb.org

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by Matt Steinberg

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets…

busterbisonmrmetIf it’s the beginning of April in Western New York, then Opening Day for the Buffalo Bisons must be just around the corner. Even more than the removal of the Ice Boom from the Niagara River, our hometown ballclub’s initial contest each year signals the imminent return of warm weather. Playing in one of the finest parks in all of the minor leagues, Coca-Cola Field, the Bisons are one of the oldest franchises in professional baseball, joining the National League in 1879. More recently, the club has been an International League power, winning a string a division titles earlier this decade, capped off by a Governor’s Cup championship in 2004.

2009 will be a year full of change and excitement, the biggest difference being their new affiliation. After spending the last 14 years as the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Herd open the year as the top farm team of our downstate neighbors, the New York Mets. The Mets, who have baseball’s best mascot (after Buster T. Bison, of course), have fielded a very good team the last few years, which hopefully promises a good roster for the Bisons. But no matter what their record is, an afternoon or evening at the downtown ballpark is Buffalo’s best entertainment value – general admission tickets start at $7.50, and the best seats in the house can be had for only $11! The best place to park is at the Adam Ramp on Washington Street ($3), then walk a few blocks to the diamond, get some great ballpark food, and enjoy our national pastime. Some of the players you see in person in Bison blue could be All-Stars in the near future!

One of my favorite parts of following the team is watching major league games and picking out who used to play for Buffalo. I drive my wife crazy by compulsively saying “former Bison” every time I see one. The Thruway Cup Series is another great part of Bison fandom – since 1998, it’s pitted the Herd, the Rochester Red Wings and the Syracuse Chiefs in a battle for the 150 mile stretch of highway that connects them all together. Since the inception of the competition, the Bisons have enjoyed most of the bragging rights. After watching Rochester win in ’98 and Syracuse claim victory in ’99, the Herd took over. Buffalo has won the Thruway Series in six of the past eight seasons, claiming the Thruway Cup as symbol of their triumph.

For tickets, call 716-843-4373 or visit their website at www.bisons.com.

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by Carolyn Batt

banditsLast weekend, I went to a Buffalo Bandits Indoor Lacrosse game at HSBC Arena. It’s a well known fact that Bills and Sabres games are popular, but I was surprised to learn that the Bandits game sold out—and that this was a regular occurrence.

I didn’t know what to expect from the fans, but I was quickly greeted with kids, teens and adults all sporting orange wigs and carrying pom-poms, wearing facepaint and lacrosse jerseys. The entire game was filled with cheering fans, exciting game action and enthusiastic announcers. Even though I live in Buffalo, I had no idea the popularity of these games.

The Bandits are a strong team, making the championships three times over the past decade before winning their fourth championship last year.They are currently in first place for this season.

The Bandits are a fun way to spend a night with friends or family, and tickets start at a mere $18. They still have seven more games left in the season, with four more home games at HSBC Arena (3/21, 3/28, 4/10, 4/18).