Memorial Auditorium

12/28/2014 38 images Share: , , Album RSS
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The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (The Aud) opened on October 14, 1940 and was renovated in 1970 and 1990. It was closed in 1996 following the conclusion of the Sabres', Bandits' and Blizzard's seasons, and remained vacant until its demolition in late 2008 and early 2009.

Originally a public works project to replace the aging Buffalo Broadway Auditorium, The Aud was built for $2,700,000 and the grand opening celebration was held on October 14, 1940. The arena originally seated 12,280 for ice hockey, with an additional 2,000-3,000 sitting in the floor area, for basketball and other events. An $8.7 million renovation took place after the 1970–71 inauguration of the Sabres and Braves franchises. The arena's roof was raised 24 feet, making room for a new upper Orange level. This raised the total capacity of the arena to over 17,000 for basketball and 15,858 for hockey, making it a more suitable home for the NBA and NHL. A new scoreboard was installed, which would be the Aud's final scoreboard upgrade. More renovations through the 1970s added seats bringing the capacity to 16,433 for hockey and over 18,000 for basketball. Minor structural and cosmetic improvements in 1990, including handicap-accessible seating areas, lowered the total seating capacity to 16,325 for hockey.

The Aud closed in 1996, at which time the Sabres, Bandits, and Blizzard moved a few blocks south to the new Marine Midland Arena (then HSBC arena, now First Niagara Center). In the mid-2000s, plans were in the works to renovate The Aud and re-purpose it as a Bass Pro Shops store; however on March 29, 2007, these plans were officially abandoned. Instead, it was announced that Bass Pro was to construct a new building on the site of the to-be-demolished auditorium. Asbestos removal and other environmental remediation was performed in preparation for the demolition in late 2008. Major demolition of the Aud began in January 2009. The formal "Farewell Buffalo Memorial Auditorium Ceremony" was held on June 30, 2009, where the copper box time capsule was opened. The final standing pieces of the Aud came down in early July 2009. Bass Pro announced in February 2010 that it was no longer pursuing a superstore in Buffalo, leaving the former site of the Aud vacant.

The Aud site became a part of the Canalside Project, revitalizing the inner harbor area of Buffalo. The area was conceived as a system of bridges and canals replicating the original terminus of the Erie Canal, which will be frozen for ice skating in the winter. The replicating canals and skating rink opened to the public in December 2014.

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