As hockey season gets underway in Buffalo, inevitably someone will wax poetic about the great old days of watching the Sabres at Memorial Auditorium.
While the memories might be sweet, the modern hockey fan might not last even one period without complaint.
This 1973 photo shows the extreme pitch of seats in the Orange section of the Aud as compared to the grade in the Upper Blue section just below. Even the most thrilling fights on the ice were often outmatched by the hundreds of people fighting vertigo after standing up too quickly from their perch in the Orange section after a beer or three.
The photo also shows one of The Aud’s features which even the most nostalgic fan has a hard time recalling with warmth. Look at the legs underneath the lighted sign, and remember the obstructed Upper Blue seats, from which fans watched a good portion of the hockey action on ancient television sets dangling from the underside of the Oranges.
The plastic-backed orange seats date to the 1971 expansion of The Aud, when the roof was raised to make room for the upper level.
The wooden blue seats—which before the expansion were gray—dated back to the original construction of Memorial Auditorium in 1940.
The Aud closed in 1996 as the Sabres (as well as the Bandits and Blizzard) moved into Marine Midland Arena (now First Niagara Center.)
Memorial Auditorium was slowly dismantled in 2009, and the site is now covered with canals replicating the original Erie Canal. The canals are open for paddle boats in warmer weather, and ice skating when frozen. A marker in the canal points to where The Aud’s center ice faceoff dot once was.
Sixty-five years ago, wrestling was treated like a legitimate sport on the pages of The News, with the comings and goings of wrestlers and blow-by-blow details of the matches detailed in words and photos. It was also covered live on Buffalo’s only TV station, The News’ Channel 4, as well as on radio stations, including WBEN.
What can only be described as the entrance of “Hollywood’s perfumed and marcelled wrestling orchid” Gorgeous George into Buffalo and his eventual defeat of Maurice “The Angel” Tillet were right there with Bisons news from Offermann Stadium.
The review of the match was written by Hall of Fame writer Cy Kritzer — who was best known for his nearly 40 years as The News’ main baseball writer.
The Canadiana, and its trips to Crystal Beach from the foot of Main Street are well remembered around Western New York.
Perhaps not as well remembered were the luxury steamers that would pick up passengers right around the spot where people now pose with “SharkGirl,” and take them across the Great Lakes to places like Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.
Both of these ads were in The Buffalo Evening News in July, 1940, and both offer Buffalonians the chance to travel via the Great Lakes.
Buffalo, NY – He was so understated, you didn’t miss him until he was gone.
But there’s no doubt I’m not the only one who can’t help myself when I’m in an echoey room– I have to break loose with a Milt Ellis tribute.
1st Buffalo Goal, his second of the season, scored by number 20 Brent Peterson. assists to number number 7 Dale McCourt, and number 23 Hannu Virta. Peterson, from McCourt and Virta. Time of the Goal, 13:22.
Every Buffalo hockey fan past a certain age has a Milt Ellis impression, whether they know it or not. Milt is a Buffalo institution– although he’d be the last one to say so. He’s the most humble, sincere, honest man you’ll ever meet.
Milt’s Memorial Auditorium public address career started with the AHL Hockey Bisons in the mid-60s. His friend Stan Barron was the PR man for the Bisons, and they needed a new PA announcer. Stan called Milt and Milt continued to be the voice of goals, penalties, and New York State Smoking Regulations until 1997 (yes, he worked for two years in the then-Marine Midland Arena.)
A hockey fan long before the Sabres skated into Buffalo, Milt has always held a place in his heart for the Leafs. When he was growing up, he could get the Leafs games on the radio and TV. Though he’ll tell you he really doesn’t consider himself having a “style,” has has said that he’s always admired the work of longtime Leafs PA Announcer Paul Morris.
The Milt Ellis Jukebox is filled with Milt’s Public Address announcements, as well as other ephemeral sound from a night at The Aud.
Many will remember Milt introducing “The National Anthem, with Tenor Joe Byron and organist Norm Wullen.”
Selections from both men are programmed into the jukebox… Also included are a full length interview Mike Schopp conducted with Milt at WNSA Radio in 2001, and a portion of a show from WDCX– The Christian Station that was Milt’s “Day Job” the entire time he was the Sabres PA announcer.
Also a brief clip from one of the men Milt looked up to as a PA Announcer… The Voice of Maple Gardens, longtime Toronto PA man Paul Morris.