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Ukraine’s EuroMaidan demonstration comes to Buffalo

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EuroMaidan.

It all started on November 21. The Ukrainian nation, enroute to signing a historic trade agreement with the European Union to strengthen economic and cultural ties with the west, quickly derailed when their president, Viktor Yanukovich, abruptly announced that he would not sign the agreement, instead opting for a closer economic treaty with Russia and Belarus.

The outrage quickly spread to the streets of their capital, Kyiv, and then throughout the rest of the country. An attempt to release former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a Yanukovich political rival languishing in prison on trumped up corruption charges, was rejected despite demands by the Eurozone that this release be a part of the deal.

These past two weeks the protests have spread throughout the world. Neighboring countries Poland and Georgia, amongst others, have displayed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. New events are happening in Kyiv literally by the minute as hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the capital, calling for the ouster of their president, new elections, and to sign the treaty with the European Union. General strikes have been organized in the western Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk.

So it was just a matter of time before Buffalo’s Ukrainian/American Community got in on the demonstration and voice their support.

That event will take place, tomorrow, Friday, December 6 at 4:00PM in Niagara Square downtown, as a support rally will be staged to express solidarity with the freedom loving peoples back in Ukraine. Later that evening, a presentation of EuroMaidan events will be held at Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center, 562 Genesee Street, with the program beginning at 7:00PM.

“Both events are open to the public, and we invite all Western New Yorkers and members of the press to attend,” said Luba Terech, one of the demonstration organizers.

Follow updates of Euromaidan events as they happen in Kyiv and throughout the world at Kyiv Post

The national Christmas tree, on display in Independence Square in central Kyiv, is decorated with flags and nationalist banners. The square has been ground zero for massive demonstrations these past two weeks.

The national Christmas tree, on display in Independence Square in central Kyiv, is decorated with flags and nationalist banners. The square has been ground zero for massive demonstrations these past two weeks.


Chippewa’s new bistro, The Lodge, officially opens its doors

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Most patrons stepping into The Lodge, the Chippewa Entertainment District’s newest restaurant and bistro, probably don’t realize that this entire project might not have happened, had it not been for the outcome of a one-on-one pick up basketball game.

So explains principal owner Adam March. “I was over at the previous owner’s house (The Bayou nightclub), I think it was back in 2009, and we were playing basketball. He has a couple kids, I was 26-27 at the time, and he told me if I could beat his nephew in basketball, he would sell me the bar. What he didn’t know was that I had played high level basketball, and still do. And so, it was half joking, half serious, but what I then was not aware of is his nephew was the senior starting point guard at the state champion Nichols team at the time. So I step out, and he steps out, and says, ‘let’s play.’ And heh. I won. And from the results and fallout of that game we put the deal together.”

March and his fellow co-owners have spent over a year and invested $1.2-miilion into creating The Lodge. This two level restaurant and entertainment bistro is over 6000 square feet in size. and the second floor offers panoramic views of the lower level bar and seating area, and contains a separate bar and party area, and game room, as well as a New Orleans style gondola balcony outdoors with sweeping views of the Chippewa streetscape. The stupendous interior design on both levels offers instant photo opportunities for visitors and patrons, with its unique lighting, shimmering acoustical tiles and beveled wall designs mimicking woodlands and flowing water, among other distinguishing touches.

This afternoon, owners, management, staff and invited guests assembled to do a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Representing the government sector were Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and State Senator Mark Grisanti. Brown and Grisanti presented proclamations on behalf of the city and the state.

Designed to mimic the ambiance of a mountain chalet or ski lodge, The Lodge is the architectural vision of a man named Rohit Kapoor. “He’s originally from Buffalo, lives in New York, and we brought him down here, with his Buffalo ties, and asked him to put his own style on this. It took months and months and months, this is not how we envisioned it from day one. It was a buildout, it was a flow and continual buildout of ideas. All our art is locally commissioned by Buffalo artists. All the furniture, the bar design is locally created. It was a nice accumulation of ideas and contractors and then the creation of a unique menu. We can see the public appreciates what we’re doing. Since the soft opening the response and enthusiasm has been overwhelming,” said March.

March and his partners are involved in business, investment and capital projects throughout the Buffalo area, and he admits that this was a fun project to do. “We believe in the growth and momentum that is happening in Buffalo and specially downtown, and we’re right in the middle of it all here on Chippewa,” said March.

“We’re not resting on our laurels. We’ve acquired the space next door at the former Lux nightclub and we are still not ready to unveil our specific plans but will be doing so shortly. It will be exciting and the public will love it. It will be yet another piece of the entertainment district down here that will be unique to Buffalo.”

Adam March (center) is joined by his partners and government officials as a ceremonial banner/ribbon is cut to open The Lodge

Adam March (center) is joined by his partners and government officials as a ceremonial banner/ribbon is cut to open The Lodge


Over at Canalside… plenty of pretty blue fencing

canal356The “East Canal” pocket park at Canalside is really taking shape, and from the looks of it, the space is promising to be something special. Located at the south end of One Canalside and immediately outside the front door and drop off of the new Courtyard by Marriott, the water park will feature a reflecting pool, abundant trees and landscaping and outdoor seating areas. The area between the park and Scott Street, labeled parcel “D-2″ on the Canalside modified plan, is being sodded just today, and hopefully a request for proposals will be released for a new structure sooner than later.

canal3591Additionally, One Canalside, the renovated old Donovan Building, can expect to start receiving its new main tenant, the Philips Lytle law firm, later this month, while the hotel portion of the building will open in spring. No word yet as to the leasing of the main floor for one or more restaurant tenants.

Of course, work on HarborCenter is progressing at a dizzying pace, with hundreds of construction workers onsite and equipment, machinery, and materials coming in and out of the construction site on a regular basis. Yesterday Ryan Poropat, construction manager for their general contractor Mortensen Construction, reported to the media that the entire shell of the building will be completed by early spring.

HarborCenter progress proceeding rapidly right next door to First Niagara Center

HarborCenter progress proceeding rapidly right next door to First Niagara Center

Yet work on the “Aud Block”, where construction of the Faux historically aligned Canals began in May of 2012, has been stalled, with the finish line being pushed back repeatedly, and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation officials now saying that the work should be completed by next summer.

Contracts for this project were approved way back in December of 2011, with the successful bidder being Dipizio Construction of Cheektowaga. A golden opportunity to seize advantage of an exceptionally mild winter that year was squandered when State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver abruptly stepped in and held up the project. Our local Assembly and Senate delegation was reluctant or refused to challenge the Speaker and get work moving.

Construction finally began in May of 2012. With work being processed at a too slow pace, the ECHDC fired the contractor in June of 2013, with the project just a little more than half way done. An entire construction summer was lost while the ECHDC dithered, finally naming a new master contractor, Pike Construction, sometime around Labor Day.

canal1And today? Over at the Aud Block, there were a total of four, yes FOUR, workers on the site. That’s it. That’s all. In the recent two weeks, the contractor has installed blue barrier tarps along the fencing surrounding the entire perimeter of the Aud Block. That fencing is adorned with pretty logos, and today, two of those four workers were busy adorning yet more logos onto the blue tarps, which is presumably in place so that the public cannot see that no real work is actually going on over at the canals.

This entire project has been botched from the get go. It is amazing how the ECHDC and their construction team can pull off the East Canal with a sense of purpose and timeliness, yet the larger parcel has languished for so long, and now they are rolling out RFPs and engineering work for three new structures to be built along those unfinished canals.

The Buffalo Sabres and HarborCenter officials have organized no fewer than three media tours since work has begun on their facility. Mind you, this is a private development that really owes no accountability to the public at large, and their regular briefings and updates to the public and the press are refreshing and most welcome.

Yet the ECHDC rarely does similar updates for the public, despite their being a public benefit corporation wholly supported by tax dollars. Their web site languishes for weeks with few updates, and one can only guess as to the status and progress of their myriad of projects. Anybody see construction equipment lined up along the Ohio Street corridor? Work was supposed to begin on the new boulevard in November. It’s November.

You catch the news that the lighting project for the Connecting Terminal Elevator won’t begin until April, with a projected completion date of fall. Why is this taking so long?

It’s great to stand at the corner of Main and Scott and just soak in the awe and wonder of what is going on down there, just by doing the quick 360. It would be even greater to see our Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation do their tasks and complete their projects with a greater sense of urgency. The public is watching and waiting with anticipation, Tom Dee…

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HarborCenter bridge to arena taking shape

hc0352If you had plans to pour a concrete driveway at your home or place of business today, chances are you were out of luck in finding a contractor.

Thursday was a big day at HarborCenter, the $172-million mixed use facility rising on the former Webster Block in front of the First Niagara Center. Concrete was poured to form what will be the bridge deck connecting the facility to the second level concourse of the arena, and spanning across Perry Street.

Over 1100 cubic yards of concrete were brought in today, enough to fill 275 residential driveways. “We’ve been preparing for this day for weeks, setting in the place the rebar and abutments. The concrete trucks starting lining up around 1:30 this morning and we were at it from the break of day,” reported Ryan Poropat, construction manager for Mortensen Construction, the general contractor for the massive project.

With sun and clouds but very windy conditions, there was some question whether today’s undertaking would come off as planned. But Poropat said that they have kept on schedule and gotten through other tricky undertakings with the building even with challenging weather days. “We’re actually on schedule and ahead of schedule and still looking at a September, 2014 completion date for everything but the hotel.”
One of the changes just announced is that Perry Street will be opened to vehicular traffic a lot sooner than expected. When the street was originally closed off last March, the Sabres announced that the street would remain closed until work is finished on the center. Now, apparently, the newly tunneled section of Perry Street will be reopened in late winter or early spring. “People driving under the Center will be able to look up and see exactly the part of the building we are pouring today,” Poropat said.
He also reported that the HarborCenter developers will be doing the finishing work for all streetscapes, sidewalks, and repaving of all streets surrounding the facility. “It will be all new sidewalks, and in fact, we will be repaving Perry Street to beyond this spot (to Illinois Street where the media was assembled today),” said Poropat.

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When completed, HarborCenter will feature two regulation sized hockey rinks, including one with spectator capacity for 1800 patrons, training and exercise facilities with 11 separate locker rooms, and will also house a 200 room Marriott Hotel, ground floor retail space including a top flight sports themed restaurant, and indoor parking for 800 vehicles. Combined with the First Niagara Center, this will be the only three rink hockey facility in the NHL.


Shiny new NFL stadiums in peer cities

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It’s been almost a year now since the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex unveiled their vision for a new stadium which would be largely privately financed and be situated smack dab on the lake’s edge in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.

Since that time, Erie County, the State and the Buffalo Bills partnered up and got a new lease done, which will assure that the team stays here for at least 7 and up to 10 years. Ralph Wilson Stadium will be seeing all sorts of upgrades during the coming offseason, which fans will get to experience come 2014. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it also buys this community time in term of coming up with a long term plan to keep the Buffalo Bills here in perpetuity.

Nicholas Strascick and George Hasiotis, the principals behind the GBSEC, deserve every bit of gratitude and plaudits from the stakeholders and citizens of this area for moving this debate forward. They invested substantial sums to retain a world class architect (HKS Sports) and come up with a preliminary design. They have lobbied mightily at all levels of government to try and secure a time sensitive land option on the Outer Harbor property. And if the vision and the proposed site as depicted eventually falls by the wayside, the people in this community can do the proper due diligence to find the appropriate alternative.

In three other NFL markets, either construction and/or plans are proceeding nicely for new stadiums which will further raise the bar on architecture and design, fan amenities, technology and functionality. Here is the rundown:

SAN FRANCISCO
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Construction is proceeding at a brisk pace on Levi’s Stadium, the new home for the San Francisco 49ers, to replace the aging and generally horrible Candlestick Park, one of oldest and most decrepit stadiums in the league. Set to open in 2014, this building is situated 38.3 miles from San Francisco and actually closer to San Jose, giving this franchise a true regional footprint. It will be the home venue for Super Bowl L (that’s “50”) in 2016.

MINNESOTA
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Ground is being broken for a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, with the opening set in time for the 2016 NFL season. So where will this facility be located? Right where their current stadium, Mall of America Field (nee Metrodome), is now. In fact, some site work will get underway shortly, and as soon as the current season is concluded, the current stadium will be demolished, and the Vikings will spend two seasons playing at TCF Bank Field on the University of Minnesota campus while their new playpen goes up.

ATLANTA
Just this past week the Atlanta Falcons unveiled new renderings and design concepts for a new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta.

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The Falcons also plan to build their new facility on the footprint of the current Georgia Dome, which would be razed to make room for the new stadium. They plan to raise the bar with electronics and LED technology to dazzle the senses, including a massive “halo” 360 degree video board crowning the circular retractable roof opening, as well as a football field length HD board running along the main concourses. If all goes to plan, their new stadium will open in time for the 2017 NFL season.

For sake of time comparisons here, both Mall of America Field opened in 1982 and the Georgia Dome opened in 1993, while Buffalo rolled out what was then named Rich Stadium in 1973. When San Francisco opens their new field next season, that will leave Buffalo and Oakland as having the two oldest stadiums in the National Football League.

Let the community debate continue.


Flying Bison’s move would have been a steal for Canalside

Guest submission by CHRIS OSTRANDER

For as much good is done at Canalside, it always feels like they’re missing out on the big score. Yet another piece of development news broke today regarding a project that should have been tailor made for Canalside.

As Jim Fink reports in Business First, Flying Bison is exploring a move to a new property in Larkinville in an effort to expand their burgeoning business. According to the report, Flying Bison is eyeing a 12,500 square foot building on Seneca Street for their new home. Here’s more from Fink:

Flying Bison plans on moving by March 2014 from its original home on Ontario Street to the new site. Since its 2000 inception, Flying Bison has leased its Ontario Street site and the building’s owner, DiVal Safety Equipment now needs the building for its own expansion needs.

Herzog said Flying Bison had pinpointed a pair of Michigan Avenue buildings, but those deals could not be completed.

The new building will allow Flying Bison to increase its output and also develop an indoor beer garden/tasting room as part of the tours that regularly take place at the brewery.

Sure 12,500 square feet is big. But would a brewery have not been a killer attraction for Canalside? Think of having Flying Bison’s new brewery (and restaurant?) situated on the Northwest corner of the Aud Block overlooking the recreated canals and facing towards the river, Arena and the rest of Canalside. Instead we continue to wait on the faux historically aligned canals to be completed let alone see any sort of significant construction towards attracting additional tenants to the district. Note: One Canalside and HARBORcenter are both tremendous projects that show how vitally important private interest and investment in the area will be. Continuing to miss out on these types of opportunities is the issue at hand.

This isn’t meant to discount the Larkin District, either. That’s a tremendous neighborhood and the development there is unparalleled. This will be a great project for that district aided by the fact that there are already buildings ready to be filled by new owners. One of the first plans for Canalside called for buildings to go up ready for tenants, but that was shot down in favor of the light, quicker, cheaper programming led by the sunset chair brigade.

The folly is that the ECHDC and Canalside will be missing out on a tenant that could serve as a cornerstone to the mixed-use entertainment district that the region is waiting on. At some point there needs to be some brick and mortar to back up the merits of “500 events a year” and “800,000 visitors”. Or perhaps a simple disclaimer that lingering at Canalside longer than 25 minutes is a challenge on most days.

Not only would a development like this help pave the way for additional commercial tenants, but it would be the type of year-round service that has been desperately missed to this point.

Obviously this all costs money. And building new – particularly a building suited to your specific needs – is going to cost a hell of a lot more than moving into a pre-existing structure elsewhere in the city. So you can’t fault Flying Bison for making the right decision for their business. Nor can you blame ECHDC for being in a situation where they’re unable to recruit tenants to fill new builds.

Where you can find fault is Canalside and the ECHDC’s massive mishandling of the canal project continues to serve as a monumental setback for a district that has seen nothing but setbacks since the first rendering was introduced. Additionally, the failure to provide the skeleton of some of the period-style buildings that are poised to fill the district as the construction has progressed is another missed opportunity for the property’s managers. It’s a point I’ve made before, but how great would it be if BFLO Harbor Kayak and the Spirit of Buffalo had a real rental and tour office rather than operating from a tent and kiosk?

It seems fairly obvious that the ECHDC needs to show potential tenants that this a desirable location. We’ve gone on long enough hoisting the benefits of all the events and all the visitors without seeing much independent interest for Canalside parcels – note that Terry Pegula’s investment in the Webster Block is practically independent of any future development at Canalside.

The skeleton of the Explore-N-More museum is going to be built by ECHDC. This is a great step forward and that will not only provide a specific framework for what other buildings in the area will look like, but to stake a further claim for private investors in the neighborhood. You can’t tell me that a similar course of action to help attract a full-service, local brewing company wouldn’t further stimulate that type of private interest. Just imagine what it would be like having a business somewhat similar to Pearl Street operating right alongside the recreated canals.

Perhaps it’s the shattered image of a signature space for Flying Bison at Canalside that is clouding my opinion, but it just seems like a massive missed opportunity for the ECHDC and Canalside.

At some point there needs to actually be things to do at Canalside. They don’t necessarily need to be all alcohol-related, it just so happens that food and alcohol related activities tend to keep people in an area for extended periods of time. Not to mention the fact that this is right next door to a sports arena.

Canalside is not going to be worse off because they missed a chance on Flying Bison. But the district won’t be better off, either.

Chris Ostrander blogs on sports and Buffalo development at his site, Two In The Box. Follow Chris on twitter @2ITB_Buffalo


Buffalo’s HarborCenter…Rising before our very eyes

Cliff Benson from HarborCenter leads the tour this afternoon at the project site

Cliff Benson from HarborCenter leads the tour this afternoon at the project site

It’s probably one of the most exciting construction projects to ever hit downtown Buffalo. HarborCenter, the multipurpose twin hockey rink, hotel, parking structure, and adjoining restaurant and other retail space, is rising quickly at the foot of Main Street adjacent to the First Niagara Center. Today representatives of the Buffalo Sabres and Mortensen Construction, the general contractor on the project, took members of the media on a “hard hat tour” to update the construction progress on the facility.

“We’re right on schedule, not ahead of schedule, but things are progressing nicely and we’re on track for a September 2014 opening for the entire facility except for the hotel, which will open nine months later,” said John Koelmel, who along with Cliff Benson and Sabres PR members showed off the building and updated the progress to date.

Mortensen Construction is finishing work on the new Pegula Arena in State College, Pennsylvania, the new home of the Penn State Division 1 ice hockey program, and Benson admits that this project is far more more challenging. “There are so many different components, so many moving parts here.The complexity of this compared to Penn State is far higher. Although we are moving along on the same aggressive timeline. The attitude on the job site is fantastic. They learned a lot of stuff from the Penn State experience and are bringing it to this project,” said Benson.

Indeed, some of the nuances learned from peer projects have been incorporated at HarborCenter. On the Washington Street side is the footer for a specially outsized freight elevator. Why so big? “We need this size to be able to transport a Zamboni machine up to the sixth floor to where the hockey rinks will be situated,” explained Ryan Poropat, Superintendent of the project for Mortensen. Poropat, who has worked on many large scale sports construction projects, including the Olympic Stadium in London, was quick to point out some of the nuances of the construction, including a special footer in the northwest corner of the structure near Main and Scott Streets, which serve as the base for the elevator towers which will serve the hotel.

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Looking north from the third floor deck of HarborCenter, One Canalside is rapidly nearing completion on the other side of Scott Street

Looking north from the third floor deck of HarborCenter, One Canalside is rapidly nearing completion on the other side of Scott Street

A new rendering of the building is on display high up in the pavilion at First Niagara Center, and will greet fans coming to the Sabres home opener this Friday against the Ottawa Senators. One area of the building for which substantive drawings have not been revealed are streetscape renderings of the Main Street side, and the sports themed restaurant planned for the northeast corner on Washington and Scott Streets.

Koelmel stated that plans are still being refined for the restaurant, which HarborCenter will own and operate, as opposed to leasing out the space to outside parties. He promised that more information on this component of the facility will be unveiled “in the next 30 to 45 days, tops.” Harbor Center officials had previously revealed that they had made several excursions to Toronto’s Real Sports Restaurant, an upscale sports bistro operated by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and are looking to create a similar atmosphere and buzz here.


As for the tenant mix anticipated for the street level of the facility, Koelmel replied, “We’re fairly well advanced with our thinking and our dialogue relative to the (restaurant) tenant at Main and Scott. We’ve just started our process for tenants at this end of the building which is at Main and Perry, we’ve had numerous inquiries from protective tenants as to who wants to partner with us and that dialogue and discussion is just now advancing.” Benson added, “We’ve been working with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation on all these things. We want this to be as user friendly as possible in terms of the pedestrian experience. We have to deal with traffic flow, how people get in and out of these facilities, it’s a little different than Chippewa Street when you have 15-20,000 people moving in and out at one time. But certainly, friendly to the environment down here, absolutely what we want to do here. We want to create a hospitality area here that connects with everything else that is going on across the street, wheat’s going on down here. That is the ultimate goal.

“We’re more than just sensitive to this issue of street friendly design,” added Koelmel. We’re fully engaged with the Canal Harbor people, with Benderson Development, Sam Savarino and others. Our focus is on the district, not just on the project. Fast forward to fall of 2014. Both canal projects will be done. The area around us continues to develop. Sam (Savarino) just opened up a new facility on Illinois Street the other night. The new casino is now open. The NFTA station renovation? That is not coincidental. We’re fully engaged with our district partners to make this experience as user friendly as it can be. We want people to come and come again and come again.”

Other items of interest on the project:

-The crane closest to the arena will be dismantled by next summer, while the second tall crane near Scott Street will continue functioning until next fall, continuing the buildout of the hotel structure which will reach 18 stories.

-Perry Street will be reopened to traffic once HarborCenter opens next September. A skywalk about 25 feet wide will connect the third level of the structure with the second floor of the First Niagara Center pavilion.

-Between 100-110 construction workers are on site at the HarborCenter on any given days.

- The Sabres are in the early stages of thinking where the main marquee for the First Niagara Center will be situated. Once the HarborCenter structure is fully in place, the marquee high top the arena will be largely obstructed from view.

- There will be hockeycentric store for equipment sales and repairs up on the rink level.

“This is moving along as fast as any construction project in the country,” said Benson. “It’s already started at a tremendous pace. We’re somewhat dependent on winter weather but we’re on schedule and ready to go.”

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Over in Batavia… A No Hitter and Magical Day

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How to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend when you’re sports dudes like we are… take in a baseball game that’s what.

Had the Buffalo Bisons still had a shot for the International League Governors Cup playoffs, a roadie to Syracuse would have been in the cards today. With the Herd’s playoff hopes extinguished last night in Rochester, it was off to Batavia instead to see the Muckdogs take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Batavia is the low “A’ affiliate of the Miami Marlins, while the Scrappers are part of the Cleveland system.

The game meant nothing in the standings; both teams are done as far as the New York/Penn League playoffs are concerned. It was “free food for seniors” day, but with meaningless baseball, the crowd was somewhere in the 600 range on a sunny and muggy Sunday.

The fans who did attend got a chance to be a part of history and witness one of the rarest of baseball occurrences – a No Hitter. In this case it was the visiting Mahoning Valley Scrappers, using a combined three pitchers, who went nine innings and managed to post a 6-0 victory and no hits for the home team.

The three pitchers were named Luis Gomez, Carlos Melo and Kerry Doane. Gomez in particular was outstanding, he got into trouble in the first allowing a base on balls and then a hit by pitch, but got out of the jam nicely. He went on to pitch six strong innings, and was virtually unhittable, confounding batters with a combination of fast ball and breaking ball. The three combined for 12 strikeouts.

In the 9th inning, Doane surrendered a leadoff hit which caromed off the third baseman and took a vertical hop, allowing the runner to get to second base. The official scorer quickly ruled it an error, keeping the no-no intact. From there, it was a ground out, strikeout looking and a strikeout swinging, and the entire MHV team poured out onto the field and mobbed the pitcher in jubilation.

And where were we? There is a great back story involving my USRT partner and fellow Artvoice sports columnist Peter Farrell. Pete has been on a mission to see a no hitter since his childhood days. He was not there in 1997 the night Bartolo Colon made history for the Bisons – the only no hitter ever thrown at Coca Cola Field (I was there that night). A combined Bisons no hitter in 2001 went awry in the 9th inning when second baseman Kevin Sefcik couldn’t climb the ladder to snare the ball. A few years later, Buffalo pitcher Kyle Denney took a no hitter into the 9th and couldn’t cash in on a Saturday afternoon, which was just as well as Pete was not in attendance, instead out delivering mail.

The Quest For No Hitter and the ultimate failing of that quest has become synonymous with Pete amongst the Bisons media and staff in the Coca Cola Field press box. It has become a tradition among the scribes to call out “See Ya Farrell” or “Good Night Farrell” at the immediate moment both no hitters on the field are gone. This past Thursday, the final home game of the Bisons season, Buffalo had a no hitter going into the 6th inning. Pete showed up (running late after a monster overtime day at work) just as the 6th inning was getting underway. We all knew. Everyone knew that the minute Pete showed up, Buffalo’s no hitter was doomed. Sure enough. As soon as Pete got his beverage and settled into his chair, Sean Nolin gave up a solo home run to right field. 5 2/3 innings. No hitter gone. See Ya Farrell.

So here we are, in the grandstand behind home plate at Dwyer Stadium, both anxious and nervous as the 9th inning unfolds. Literally quaking and hanging on every pitch. A quick “whew” as that leadoff runner gets called an error. Then a ground out. One away. Pitch after pitch we are hanging on the ball. The next batter looks at a 2-2 pitch that should have been called strike. It was a ball. No matter. The next pitch he goes down looking.

I turn to Pete and recite one of the memorable quotes (amongst many insanely memorable quotes) from the 1989 baseball movie “Major League”. I said, “Pete, this is the out you’ve been waiting your whole life for.” I wasn’t far off with that statement. This was as close as we had come in years to witnessing a No Hitter in our many USRT baseball experiences. Would Mahoning Valley have it in them to get that final out?

No More "See Ya Farrell". It's a No Hitter today in Batavia

No More “See Ya Farrell”. It’s a No Hitter today in Batavia

It took only four pitches. On a 1-2 count, the final Batavia batter took a massive swing. The ball was safely in the catcher’s mitt. The entire Scrappers team piled onto the field in jubilation. And we can tell you that there was nobody louder or making more commotion in the stands than us. We were hugging, high fiving and whooping it up, even eliciting stares from the locals. A lady behind us asked if we were affiliated with the team. Really, ma’am? Would we be carrying on like this for a meaningless September win on the third last day of the season? We explained to her and her group that we had all just seen a no hitter, and they were oblivious to what was going on.

We stayed. We tweeted and facebooked and let all our friends know what we just saw. We took photos, went to the rail close to the MHV dugout to cheer on these young lads for their memorable accomplishment. And we just savored the moment, knowing it may be a long, long time, if ever, that we experience something like this again.

It’s a safe guess that the “See Ya Farrell” call will remain a part of Bisons press box tradition come 2014, because it just is, that’s why. But it will never be the same. Peter Farrell, and the USRT, have now attended and witnessed a No Hitter. As Pete tweeted, can a Bills’ Lombardi Trophy and a Sabres’ Stanley Cup be far away? At this point, anything is possible.

Andrew and Peter comprise the Ultimate Sports Road Trip and also cover Buffalo Bisons baseball and Buffalo Sabres hockey for Artvoice. Follow them on Twitter @akulykUSRT and @pfarrellUSRT




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