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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres will start the 2011-2012 season with a brand new name for the National Hockey League team’s home: First Niagara Center.

In connection with First Niagara Bank, N.A.’s acquisition of Upstate New York and Connecticut branches from HSBC Bank USA, N.A., the Buffalo-headquartered regional bank agreed to purchase the naming rights to HSBC Arena, the 18,690-seat home of the hockey club and Western New York’s premier sports and entertainment facility. 

First Niagara will be the official bank of the Buffalo Sabres, deepening the company’s connections with its customers in the region as it strengthens its Upstate New York leadership through its previously announced HSBC-branch acquisition.  First Niagara’s 15-year agreement with the Sabres also 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.  Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“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.”

HSBC has been an integral part of the Sabres’ history and its unique presence in the community.  It was Northrop Knox, chairman of HSBC’s Upstate New York predecessor, Marine Midland Bank, who with his brother Seymour brought NHL hockey to Buffalo with the Sabres inaugural 1970-71 season.  The current home of the Sabres was christened Marine Midland Arena in 1996 and renamed HSBC Arena in 1999.

Irene Dorner, President and CEO, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., said: “HSBC is proud of its long association with the Sabres and we are pleased that it will continue with an ongoing Arena Box presence.  HSBC remains committed to the Buffalo area through such ongoing local relationships, our operational presence, and the continued growth of our commercial banking activities here.”

“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.”

The naming rights agreement announced today and the HSBC-branch acquisition are just the latest in a series of First Niagara investments in the region the bank has called home since 1870.  The company has been investing in infrastructure and job creation in its City of Buffalo headquarters neighborhood and new-job creation across New York State.  Anyone who loves Upstate New York, too, is invited to share their stories at

“This sponsorship agreement between First Niagara and the Buffalo Sabres is a marriage of the two hottest brands in the entire Western New York region,” said John Livsey Vice President of Sales & Business Development -- Buffalo Sabres. 

In addition to the Sabres marketing partnership announced today, First Niagara is presenting sponsor of the New Haven Open at Yale and is also a sponsor of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

About First Niagara
First Niagara expects to have approximately $38 billion in assets, $31 billion in deposits and 450 branches upon completion of its HSBC-branch acquisition, subject to customary regulatory approvals.  First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank that currently has $31 billion in assets, $19 billion in deposits, 346 branches and 5,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  For more information, visit

HSBC Bank USA, National Association, with total assets of $195.1 billion as of 30 June 2011 (US GAAP), serves around 4 million customers through its personal financial services, commercial banking, private banking, asset management, and global banking and markets segments. It operates more than 470 bank branches throughout the United States. There are over 370 in New York state as well as branches in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, California, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon and Washington State. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc., one of the nation's largest bank holding companies by assets. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is a member of the FDIC.
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