Aug 25, 2011 at 09:48 PM
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Sabres Change Arena Name, No Lawsuit Necessary

Back in 1999, you might recall that HSBC had to file a lawsuit against the Buffalo Sabres, after acquiring the regional bank Marine Midland, to get the team to change the building's name from Marine Midland Arena to HSBC Arena. Now, it's HSBC's Western New York branches that are getting acquired and it seems like the naming rights deal will have a much smoother transition this time around.

First Niagra acquired 195 branches in Western New York from HSBC earlier this month, in the process becoming the largest bank in the region, and today it was announced that the Buffalo Sabres home arena will be rebranded First Niagara Center starting with the 2011-2012 season.

First Niagara will naturally also become the official bank of the Buffalo Sabres as part of a 15-year naming rights agreement with the Sabres which includes exclusive exterior facility naming rights, category exclusivity in the facility’s bowl, other interior and exterior signage and branding, exclusive on-site ATM presence, television and other value-added promotional benefits.

“We are excited to partner with the Pegula family and a team that not only shares our love for the Buffalo Niagara region, but our commitment to creating a winning franchise that attracts top talent and serves as a source of pride for Western New York,” First Niagara President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Koelmel said. “First Niagara’s investment ensures this downtown landmark and home of Buffalo’s beloved Sabres remains named for a company with deep roots in Western New York. HSBC’s cooperation in transitioning the naming rights was instrumental to our reaching this agreement, and we’re honored that they are entrusting First Niagara with a legacy that stretches back to the team’s founding more than four decades ago.”

“We’re very happy and excited to be partnering with First Niagara on the most significant sports sponsorship agreement in Western New York history,” said Ted Black, President -- Buffalo Sabres. “Marine Midland Bank was instrumental in financing the original construction of the Arena and HSBC Bank USA has been a great partner of ours for the last 12 years. We now look forward to our new partnership with First Niagara and growing our businesses together in Western New York.”

It's been a busy month for the bank, which also has a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition to the HSBC transaction, the bank is currently activating its inaugural presenting sponsorship of the New Haven Open, which the bank signed after Pilot Pen bowed out as title last year.

Here's First Niagara President and CEO, John Koelmel, commenting on today's announcement:

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