FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2010
SCHUMER URGES BUFFALO SABRES OWNER LARRY QUINN TO BRING AHL AFFILIATE TO ALBANY; MOVE WOULD BRING AHL TEAM FROM PORTLAND MAINE TO NEW YORK'S CAP REGION AND FILL VOID LEFT BY RIVER RATS
Placing The Sabres's AFL Affiliate in Albany Can Create an Fan Base Across All of Upstate New York ; AHL Team Would Benefit from being in an Established Buffalo Sabres Media Market
Schumer: It's Time to Bring the Sabres's Affiliate Home to New York, And Albany Is The Perfect Place To Do It
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he personally spoke with Buffalo Sabres managing partner, Lawrence Quinn, last night to urge him to bring the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, to Albany to fill the void left the by the departing Albany River Rats. Schumer and Quinn had a positive conservation during which Schumer stressed the demand for hockey in the Capital Region and the ability of the community to turn out fans and support their team. Schumer stressed that Albany is already an established market for the Sabres, and it makes sense to bring the team home from main. Schumer also passed on a letter to Quinn, formally outlining his argument.
“Albany is a first-class hockey town and any AHL team – but especially an Upstate New York team like the Sabres - would make a wise choice to move there,” Schumer said. “I think creating a Sabres fan base that stretches from west to east across all of Upstate is a great idea. And I think that hockey fans in the Albany area will be motivated to root for a team also from Upstate New York. It is not hard to imagine fans taking road trips to support the players they watch grow into front-line NHL’ers. We clearly have a strong case to move the Sabres AHL franchise here, and I will continue to make that case as strongly as I can so that pucks continue to bounce off the boards of the Times Union Center.”
AHL hockey has a special place in the hearts and minds of the Capital Region. AHL hockey came to Albany in 1990, shortly built up a strong base of support, and has been a main stay in Albany now for 20 years. The excitement of Capital Region AHL hockey reached a pinnacle in 1995 when the Rats won the AHL’s Calder Cup. It was an amazing season as the Rats average attendance surged to 6,101 placing it 4th out of 18 teams. It’s a great example of the Capital Region’s potential and shows how the community rallied to support the dramatic rise of the team. Moving the team from Portland, Maine to Albany would bring the Pirates right into the Sabres media market which would enliven the existing fan base.
Recently, the Albany River Rats were sold to North Carolina businessman Michael Kahn, who has decided to move the team to North Carolina where it will serve as an AHL affiliate to the Carolina Hurricanes. The move leaves a city with a large demand for hockey, Albany, without an AHL hockey team. After this season, the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, will see their current lease with the Cumberland County Civic Center expire. Of late, newspapers like the Albany Times Union have reported that the Portland Pirates are considering a move to Albany, which would fill the void left by the River Rats. The reports of a possible move prompted Schumer to reach out to Quinn in an effort to secure a team for Albany. Quinn confirmed to Schumer that the team is considering a move to Albany.
Schumer’s letter to Quinn is below:
February 14, 2010
Mr. Lawrence Quinn
Managing Partner/Minority Owner
One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza
Buffalo, NY 14203-3096
Dear Mr. Quinn,
I write today to whole-heartedly endorse an opportunity for the Portland Pirates to move to Albany, NY the capital of the Empire State and central hub of New York State’s Tech Valley. This exciting prospect would have the Portland Pirates assume the place of the departing AHL team. That team, the Albany River Rats, is part of rich hockey tradition in the Capital Region and I am confident that the Pirates can take up that mantle filling the demand for AHL hockey.
Let me explain why AHL hockey has a special place in the hearts and minds of the Capital Region. AHL hockey came to Albany in 1990, shortly built up a strong base of support, and has been a main stay in Albany now for 20 years. In 1993, the team was renamed the Albany River Rats, a move that gained national attention due to the uniqueness of the name. Then the excitement of AHL hockey reached a pinnacle in 1995 when the Rats won the AHL’s Calder Cup. It was an amazing season as the Rats average attendance surged to 6,101 placing it 4th out of 18 teams. It’s a great example of the Capital Region’s potential and shows how the community rallied to support the dramatic rise of the team.
Now the Pirates has the chance to continue the winning tradition in Albany. I’ve noticed in the last 3 of the 4 seasons your team has finished in the top 3 of your division, including a first place division finish and a dramatic playoff run. This winning tradition will serve the Pirates well if the Pirates choose Albany. I look forward to attending a potential “Capital Region Cup” series between the Pirates and regional rival, the Adirondack Phantoms. If you have any further questions, please contact me.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator