Buffalo Sabres Acquire New Stadium Sponsor

August 29, 2011

National Hockey League team Buffalo Sabres stadium has been branded a new name for the 2011-12 season and will now be known as the First Niagara Centre.

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.

John R. Koelmel, First Niagara President and Chief Executive Office, said: “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’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.”

John Livsey, Buffalo Sabres Vice President of Sales Business Development, said “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,”

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