It’s the first round of the playoffs, and the Sabres are down 3-1. While this understandably sounds bleak for Buffalo hockey lovers, there is at least one good way to make the most out of it: experience the game with thousands of other fans downtown without having to max out your credit card on tickets. Tonight’s “Party in the Plaza” will begin at 5pm, and will hopefully see the Sabres force a Game Six out of the Bruins.
For Sabres fans who have yet to attend one, “Party in the Plaza” is held outside of HSBC Arena, near Perry and Illinois Streets. A telescopic TV screen will broadcast the game within fans’ sightlines. Admission is free, and fans do not need game tickets to attend the party or purchase food and drink at the concession stands. It will be held rain or shine, and “That 80’s Hair Band” will be on hand tonight to provide live entertainment.
The 40′ x 120′ tent that has been in place for other “Parties in the Plaza” this year will not be up tonight, since it’s expected to be sunny. Perry St. will be closed in front of the arena, beginning at 4pm, to make room for the crowd. After the end of the game, the Lexus Shootout post-game show will be broadcast as the crowd departs.
For Sabres fans, it is no secret that enjoying a game with friends and fellow Sabres fans alike is a one-of-a-kind experience that brings camaraderie. However, especially in hard economic times, not everyone can afford to buy tickets for an entire family, or even just one or two people, especially with the NHL postseason’s hike in ticket prices.
As a college student, part of a group whose members are notoriously short on cash, buying tickets for every game is generally out of the question. However, “Party in the Plaza” is an inexpensive and easy way to get a group of friends together, or just go alone and meet up with other Sabres fans, to enjoy a night out without breaking the bank.
“‘Party in the Plaza’ is a way in which we can all come together as a community and celebrate the Sabres together,” Canisius College senior Brittany Rowan said. “Even if you just go by yourself and don’t know anybody there, there’s no such thing as going to a Sabres game alone because we all have a common thread connecting us, and that’s the love of our Sabres.”
Julie Zirnheld, a sophomore at Canisius, also said that “Party in the Plaza” has allowed her to enjoy the Sabres game night atmosphere downtown. She recalled her positive experiences before, during, and after the Sabres’ Game 1 victory on April 15.
“‘Party in the Plaza’ is a great experience…the best part, though, isn’t during the game or the pregaming before,” Zirnheld said. “It’s once the Sabres have won the game and everyone one is shouting, high fiving each other and beeping the horns to the tune of ‘Let’s go, Buffalo!’ that makes the evening worth it. [That] night, even the Metro subway was making the bell ding to the tune. I can’t even say how much I love it.”
For longtime and bandwagon Sabres fans alike, it is clear that the city of Buffalo is dedicated to this hockey team and truly is “cup crazy.” Since “Party in the Plaza” is such a big draw, Sabres followers can only hope that they will see another one in 2010 and that, just maybe, the Stanley Cup will come to the Queen City this year.