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Ice Arena Named Top Ice-Skating Venue in WNY

Posted: November 27, 2008
Although it may be one of the best kept secrets among faculty, staff, and students at the college, the Buffalo State Ice Arena has developed a reputation as one of the best ice rinks in Western New York.

Recently named the top ice-skating venue in Western New York by Buffalo Spree magazine, the ice arena hosts nearly 50,000 players, fans, parents, and recreational skaters each year, according to arena manager Jim Fowler.

In addition to serving as home to Buffalo State’s men’s and women’s varsity hockey programs, the arena, which opened in 1991, provides open skating opportunities, skate-n-shoot hours, practice time for local youth teams, and learn-to-skate programs every season.

“On a typical Saturday, a member of my staff will open the arena around 6:00 a.m.,” Fowler said. “It is not uncommon for us to be booked solid until 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. the next morning.”

November 1 marked the start of the always-popular learn-to-skate program. The arena offers 10 separate seven-week courses for individuals of various skill levels at a cost of $45. According to Fowler, about 700 people participate in the program each year. While most participants are children, he notes that there is room for participants of all ages.

“A lot of adults call up and ask if there will be other grown-ups in the program,” Fowler said. “I can never give them a definite answer, but there is always a handful of adults in each class.”

For individuals who already know how to skate, the arena features plenty of open-skating opportunities, including a convenient lunch-hour session Monday through Friday from noon to 1:50 p.m. Faculty, staff, and the general public can skate for just $2, while skate rental is only an additional $2. Open skating is free for Buffalo State students.

Canisius College’s men’s hockey program also calls the ice arena home, playing 12–15 games each year on the Buffalo State campus. “They bring in an additional fan base, giving Buffalo State some great exposure,” Fowler noted.

The arena’s most popular tenants are the Buffalo Sabres, who practice on campus three to four times a year when scheduling conflicts arise at HSBC Arena. The Buffalo State arena, with its 200-by-85-foot regulation-size surface, provides an ideal practice rink for the team. According to Fowler, he typically has only a week’s notice before a visit from the Sabres, but he is always happy to make room on the schedule for the popular NHL franchise.

“It is great for our student-athletes,” Fowler said. “The Sabres typically get dressed for practice at HSBC Arena and then put their skates on in the bleachers at our place, giving our athletes a chance to meet and interact with the team.”

Despite the variety of events and activities offered at the arena, Fowler still encounters a student or two every spring at Commencement who, while lining up for the procession on the arena floor, says, “I never knew Buffalo State had an ice rink!”

“We have one of nicest arenas in the country,” Fowler said. “It’s here. Why not use it?”
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