The Stars get ready to come out – Lacrosse style!
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 6:00 pm, February 23, 2012
Come this Saturday, the eyes of the lacrosse world will be on the City of Buffalo, as the finest players on the planet come together to meet in the National Lacrosse League’s annual All Star Game.
The Buffalo Bandits will be showcasing this game for the very first time here in Buffalo, and this afternoon, NLL Commissioner George Daniel, and Buffalo Bandits front office executives Dave Zygaj and Scott Loffler held a news conference to formally kick off the event and share what fans can expect this weekend.
First – the particulars. The All Stars will meet in an East vs West format. The game is set for this Saturday, February 25, 7:30pm at First Niagara Center. No fewer than six members of the Buffalo Bandits will be playing for the East squad.
But there will be much, much more for ticketed fans attending the event. A pre game Fan Fest starts at 4:00pm. Then at 4:30PM, the La Nova chicken wing eating contest will pit 50 contestants consuming Buffalo’s favorite taste treat in a battle for eating supremacy and Sabrebucks gift cards as prizes. There will be autograph sessions with the All Stars and with Bandits players. The team will also set up Fan Foto areas for memorable photograph opportunities, chances for photo opps with mascots from all the teams and the Buffalo Bandettes cheerleaders, and music spun with guest DJ’s. The first 1500 fans through the turnstiles will also receive a free commemorative game program.
All the pre game fun will be open to all ticketed fans, with events scattered throughout the 100 level of the building. The upper concourses will open at their normal opening time for the game itself. Fans can expect the normal Bandits game night presentation, with the fun music bumps, contests, and iconic PA announcer Chris “Swennie” Swenson at the mic.
“Given the fact that there’s such a great following (here in Buffalo), I am thrilled and excited to showcase what really are the best players in the world. So I think the game is going to be something special,” said NLL Commissioner George Daniel, as he spoke about this weekend’s festivities. “We’re just thrilled to have the NLL All Star Game here in Buffalo. The Bandits are one of the marquee franchises in the National Lacrosse League.”
When asked, Daniel admitted that bringing this game to Buffalo was something that was time to do. “It was just a matter of timing,” said Daniel. “Other cities have approached us about hosting the game, but with the success of last year’s game outside of Syracuse, and looking at the consistently good attendance figures here, it certainly became a no brainer to have it in Buffalo.”
Daniel also touched upon the state of the league, with some setbacks in certain markets and the loss of the Boston Blazers after the end of last season, bringing the league to its current roster of nine teams. “The nine owners that we have are the best quality of owners in the history of the league, and that’s a positive for us. Moving forward, I think our focus is quality over quantity, and I want to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the mistakes we made in the past, getting into certain markets too soon. Our focus really is looking at Canadian cities, getting back into major markets that we have been in the past such as New York,” said Daniel. He added that cities such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit and returning to the New England area are on the radar screen.
“We’re fortunate to have the success we’ve had,” added Dave Zygaj, who represents the Bandits on the league’s Board of Governors. “We do what we can to share what we’ve done, not only with other teams in this league, to see to it that they are successful, but as well as with other potential owners.”
Scott Loffler, who handles the day to day administration of the team, shared a very interesting stat – that a Bandits game is typically one of the highest attended lacrosse events anywhere in the world, and the only event that tops Buffalo’s accomplishment is the NCAA lacrosse Final Four. This was confirmed by Commissioner Daniel. “We’ve sold 13,000 tickets so far, and we do have promotional family four packs available,” Loffler reported on Saturday’s game. The team is hoping for a good walk up and a full house, in a game that will be seen nationwide via ESPN3.
Loffler also admitted that they attempted to bring a watermelon chugging contest to the Fan Fest, but the chicken wing contest became the next best thing. “We filled the contest roster of 50 registrants within a day, and we’re encouraging fans and especially kids to come early and enjoy everything we have to offer,” said Loffler.
Tickets for the game, which includes admission to the Fan Fest, run from $25-$35, and information and online ticket purchasing is available via the Buffalo Bandits web site, or at the First Niagara Center box office.
Sharing the dais at First Niagara Center (L-R) Lacrosse Operations Director Scott Loffler, Bandit Luke Wiles, NLL Commissioner George Daniel, Bandit Billy Dee Smith, Bandits NLL Governor Dave Zygaj