Friday Night Rant: New York's Team Gets Buffaloed

Rick Stewart

A funny thing happened on the way to becoming New York's State University, we got Buffaloed by Canisius.

The UB hockey drum has been beat before, but a recent news story has me back here beating it again. Canisius will soon become Hockey Heaven's College Hockey Team as they struck a deal to become the primary tenant of a hockey rink in Buffalo's new HARBOURcentre HARBORcenter complex.

If Buffalo could have pulled off a similar deal, the Bulls could have practiced at the Amherst Ice Center and then played their games downtown. No need for a Terry Pegula to build us a 102 million dollar hockey temple, we could make do renting inside his relatively modest 2.2 million dollar hockey facility.

With the biggest expense, arena, minimized, we could have built a team and become Buffalo's College Hockey team. Hockey crazy market + college has created revenue in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other areas:

1. Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA) -- $ 6,681,561
2. Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA) -- $5,297,711
3. Michigan Wolverines (CCHA) -- $4,102,771
4. North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA) -- $3,915,971
5. Boston College Eagles (Hockey East) -- $3,702,040
6. Colorado College Tigers (WCHA) -- $3,059,597
7. Boston University Terriers (Hockey East) -- $2,973,001

via BCinterruption.com

In addition, the Big 10 network is betting well, Big on hockey, giving hockey schools an additional 2 million dollars once they move under the Big 10's umbrella. Big money could come from hockey, it could possibly even make us a more attractive expansion candidate.

Compared to the revenue numbers, the budget numbers seem doable. Canisius keeps their men's hockey budget under a million, Niagara spends 2.2 million on men's and women's hockey. Depending on our Title IX situation, we could likewise spend 1-2 million on hockey operational costs with no need to build a new arena structure.

If we were ever hurting for revenue, we could host a Buffalo Winter Classic Tournament with Canisius, Niagara, Buffalo and another area team. For once, UB Stadium's track would enhance site lines to the action! The novelty of the outdoor hockey game could sell many tickets, cover any revenue shortfalls and serve as a nice selling point for UB's East Club...nothing like a 10 degree hockey game to make you realize the importance of the club.

D1 Hockey and Buffalo need each other, and the deal Canisius just made seems like the perfect way for us to return to NCAA hockey. Now that Canisius is at HARBORcenter and we are still passing on one of the most popular sports in the city we represent, it is a major blow to UB athletics.

Hockey may be the next big revenue sport of the Northeast, but Lacrosse could be the next big national spring sport. It is better on TV than the College World Series, the sport is gaining traction out here on the west coast, but it is still a New York game.Look no further than the Buffalo Bandits. The Bandits led the league in attendance between 2009-2012 and this year was second averaging 15,000 fans per game.

As Lacrosse can be played on a football field, there is no facility cost, it would require a coaching staff, moderate equipment costs and moderate recruiting since New York State is the epicenter of lacrosse talent.

While we have passed on Lacrosse, Syracuse has built a dynasty, winning in 2008 and 2009, and finishing 2nd in 2013.

Syracuse may have lost 1.2 million while posting the highest attendance in the nation at just under 4,000 fans per game. So it will never work at Buffalo...not so fast. One of the advantages Buffalo would have over Syracuse is In-State tuition. Men's and Women's Lacrosse carries a total of 24.6 scholarships...at Syracuse those scholarships are worth approximately $1,340,995, in-state at UB, the scholarships are worth only $498,962.

If Buffalo could recruit solely in-state, they would save $842,033 a year. Syracuse's coach salary isn't available but let's assume he's making $300,000, if we find a coach at $100,000, that means we could run a Men's and Women's Lacrosse program for $150k a year.

It's time. If we are truly going to be New York's team and Buffalo's team, we cannot continue to ignore two of the State's favorite pastimes. Bill Maher AD at Canisius, former AD at UB knows Buffalo and aligning Canisius with the Sabres was a one-timer two shelf where mama hides the cookies.

To the best of my knowledge Danny White's most extensive hockey knowledge came from his time as a Phoenix high schooler in 1996, the year the Jets moved to Arizona. Maybe he never truly understood hockey in Buffalo. If so, it is time for someone to give him a crash course on the importance of Hockey in Buffalo.

While off trying to win the war for NY State,White lost a major battle within his own city limits. There is time, but not much time, only a year. Canisius moves downtown next fall and Syracuse's growing pains while adapting to a grueling ACC Lacrosse schedule begins this spring. We have to strike now and prove that the New York Bulls is not about re-branding an old product, but about re-introducing the world to what it means to be Buffalonians and New Yorkers.

New York is football in the park under the changing leaves of autumn, hockey during the depths of winter, perfecting your cradle during April showers, and pick-up basketball amidst the heat of the blacktop in summer. That is New York, and if that is what UB wants to be, now is the time to show it.

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