This weekend marked a turning point for the Labatt Pond Hockey tournament. After years of succumbing to erratic weather conditions, the event was a major success thanks to the pure determination of a team of organizers and developers who set out to change the face of hockey in Buffalo. At the same time, they also managed to accomplish an entirely different goal – to prove that people would attend an event in the wintertime at a venue along the Buffalo River. You see, the ongoing battle in the minds of developers has mainly been – “How do we get people to come to a waterfront destination when it’s cold out – especially to a somewhat obscure location that most Buffalonians have only discovered relatively recently during the warmer months?”
In order to ensure the success of the tournament, Riverworks’ crews worked around the clock for weeks leading up to the tournament, building the rinks and the metal decks, installing the garage doors, clearing out industrial machinery, removing widow-makers, building railings and walkways – basically taking a longstanding industrial site and turning it into a playground for hockey players and beer drinkers.
And that is exactly who showed up. The heated warehouse was filled with partiers from sun up to sun down on Saturday (and Friday evening before that). Despite the limited parking, thousands of people showed arrive to watch the hockey… and drink beer. “Over the last two days, more than 800 hockey players competed in nearly 400 hockey games during the 7th Annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament,” said Lisa Texido, brand manager, Labatt Blue. “This year, the tournament’s story is all about hockey, just like it’s meant to be. The new venue and refrigerated rinks at Buffalo RiverWorks were a huge hit with players and fans. It was exciting to see thousands of people come out to support the tournament.”
The refrigerated ice conditions appeared to be perfect, and the party conditions were just as impressive. The industrial backdrop of the grain elevators created a spectacular setting for the non-stop action. This was a win-win for players, fans and the city – we showed that after years of facing adversity in the form of uncooperative weather conditions, the only thing left to do was be proactive and create the ideal destination. Seeing that teams were traveling to Buffalo from as far away as Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, it was important for Buffalo to prove that it was capable of being a worthy host.
I believe that this weekend we surpassed the goals that we set out to accomplish. It was great to see so many people having such as great time at a site that has just begun to show what it’s capable of. Once again, these days we are no longer asking ourselves “If we can do it?” Instead we are putting our heads together to determine “How we can do it better…”
Want to see what others think about Buffalo being branded as a new hockey town? Check out this article.
The 2014 Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament champions include:
· Elite Division: Blue Heron
· Advanced Over 21 Division: BuffaloWit.com
· Intermediate Over 21 Division: Old Macks
· Recreational Over 21 Division: Jack FM
· Novice Over 21 Division: Dr. Parks
· Advanced Over 30 Division: Reggans
· Intermediate Over 30 Division: Pale Ales
· Novice Over 30 Division: Try-It Distributing
· Intermediate Over 40 Division: Bison Hockey Sticks
· Novice Over 40 Division: Cricket
· Women’s Division: Performance Solutions