Buffalo Memorial Auditorium “The Aud”
Buffalo's old hockey cathedral still packs a punch
During the mid-1930's, the federal government pumped public works dollars into the national economy in an effort to put a halt to the Great Depression. Employment and construction programs spurred municipal projects across the country. In Buffalo, one such project was the replacement of the aging Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo's only convention hall. The cornerstone was laid on November 30, 1939. Located between Lower Terrace and Lake Streets, the $2,700,000 Arena stands at one end of what was once the Erie Canal in the oldest section of Buffalo. Opening ceremonies for the 422' by 262' auditorium with its 12,280-tiered red, blue and gray-colored seats and 2,000-3,000 floor-level moveable seats was held on October 14, 1940. A parade and 3,000-person luncheon was held at the Auditorium. The affair was described as one of the largest civic celebrations ever held in Buffalo. The Aud was formally dedicated in memory of those who had died in World War combat.
Memorial Auditorium became the center of entertainment for Buffalo. In the first seven months, events drew over one million spectators. Locals flocked to the Aud to see concerts, political rallies, dog shows, circuses, ice shows and sporting events. The Aud became the new home of the Buffalo Bisons Professional Hockey Club. By 1955, the Aud was in need of vast improvement and a $595,000 plan was undertaken. The Bisons were sold to the Pastor family in 1956. The Pastors introduced a local youth ice hockey program that utilized the Aud for it's games. The programs ensured that the love for the sport remained large in the hearts of many young Buffalonians. The Bisons folded in 1970 when the NHL expansion Buffalo Sabres were born. An $8.7 million renovation raised the 2,200-ton roof 24 feet for expansion of seating capacity by 18,000 seats.
First Niagara Center opened September 21, 1996 at a cost of $127.5 million. The venue was known for years as the HSBC Arena (and before that, the Crossroads Arena) and changed names to the First Niagara Center in 2011. A new era of history for the City had been ushered in. A few years ago there was a renewed hope for the old girl. In November 2004 - Bass Pro Shops, America's most popular outdoor store, announced they were going to reconvert the historical auditorium into a Bass Pro Outdoor World store that would have been approximately 250,000 square feet and would anchor a project that also included a museum/interpretive center, hotel and a themed full-service restaurant. However, it was decided to tear down the Aud in 2009.