On June 6th, 2009, the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium will begin to see it’s last stand before it takes on the final wrecking ball in the coming days.
The Buffalo Auditorium nicknamed the “Aud” was one of the great hockey venues for many years.
Built for $2,700,000, Memorial Auditorium’s grand opening celebration was held on October 14, 1940. The arena originally seated 12,280 for ice hockey.
The AHL’s Buffalo Bisons played 30 seasons at the Memorial Auditorium, beginning with the 1940-41 season.
The Memorial Auditorium hosted the 1978 NHL all-star game on January 24, 1978.
NHL history was made at the Aud on February 24, 1982, when Wayne Gretzky of the visiting Edmonton Oilers scored a natural hat trick in the final seven minutes of the third period to help defeat the Sabres 6–3. Gretzky broke Phil Esposito’s record for the most goals in a season (76) with the first goal of the hat trick, Gretzky’s 77th of the season.
Michael Peca scored the last in-game goal at the Aud while Pat Lafontaine put in a ceremonial goal after the 4–1 win over the Hartford Whalers. It was the last arena in which the ice sheet fell short of the league-mandated 200 ft. by 85 ft.
The Aud was renovated in 1970 and 1990. It was closed in 1996 following the conclusion of the Sabres season, and remained vacant up through its demolition in late 2008 and early 2009.
The building was also set as a war memorial for the Spanish-American war.
The thing about that building was that everyone was so close that you could recognize people just by looking up. You don’t get that in a lot of places today. The people felt like they were a part of the team and we felt like they were a part of our success. That was the special thing about Memorial Auditorium. I don’t think anything like that can ever be replaced.
—Lindy Ruff (Sabres coach)