John Koelmel, the CEO of First Niagara Bank, knew the Knox brothers (who founded the Sabres), remembers watching The French Connection and has been a fan of Sabres hockey for years. He's knows the team's traditions, which is why his bank and the Sabres examined bringing back the name of the team's longtime arena: The Aud.
Instead, the sides decided on First Niagara Center as the new name for the building at the foot of Washington Street.
"We talked about Auditorium," Koelmel said at the news conference announcing his bank had acquired the naming rights to HSBC Arena. "It’s a little bit of a mouthful and all the rest of that. First Niagara Center, everyone felt it rolled off the tongue pretty well and resonated well."
The Sabres played in Memorial Auditorium from 1970 until 1996.