Memorial Auditorium may have housed the American Hockey League’s Buffalo Bisons for 50 years, but before it could host an NHL game, the ‘Old Grey Mare’ had to undergo a few changes.
After being awarded a franchise on December 2, 1969, the Sabres’ founding fathers had to scramble implement the mandatory upgrades to the building before Opening Night on October 15, 1970.
First and foremost, the venue had to coincide with the League’s minimum seating capacity of 15,000 seats – which meant an extensive renovation for The Aud. The roof of the building had to be raised 24 feet so that 2,200 extra seats – known as the Orange Section – could be added and more improvements had to be made to house the necessary features for a full game production.
The Sabres also had plans to install a new state of the art jumbotron after the roof was secured.
However, the $8.7 million construction plan was too major to be accomplished in just a few months, so the NHL allowed it to be delayed until 1971 – after the conclusion of the Sabres’ inaugural season.
By the time the crew had finished, The Aud was among the best arenas in the League and would go on to host the Sabres for 26 seasons.