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Labatt Blue Buffalo Hockey Tournament's impact beyond the ice

Posted at 11:12 PM, Feb 16, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 13th annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Hockey Tournament is much more than just a sporting event. It's an economic driver for Buffalo RiverWorks and the businesses surrounding it.

Sean Green is the Director of Athletics at RiverWorks and said the even has a major financial impact for RiverWorks, bringing in close to 10,000-15,000 people over the weekend. The approximately 800 players from 120 teams trade in their skates for sneakers between games, and join the many spectators inside RiverWorks buying food and drinks.

Outside of RiverWorks, Green said players and spectators are contributing to the whole city.

"It's been an incredible weekend for the surrounding businesses around here," he said. "Restaurants besides our Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, and other restaurants in the area. As I said, hotels. The Sabres coming in here having the game on Thursday night, the big game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leads, starting to see a Canadian impact coming in."

Green said about a dozen teams competing in the tournament are from other states. He said they traveled from places like Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Tom Zimmer is a local player on the Queen City Squirrels and said pond hockey at a destination like Riverworks has done a lot for the city.

"It's really cool to see how the city has kind of come up around the tournament," Zimmer said.

He said his favorite part of the tournament is being able to spend the whole weekend with his friends. That translates to more business for many local spots.

"Last night actually we were at Gene McCarthy's, and we ran into a team that was from New Jersey," Zimmer said.

Pretty soon, they'll be more destinations for pond hockey competitors to visit. OnCore golf is scheduled to open near RiverWorks in 2021.