Empty Buildings and Empty Promises

by Ryan

If you went outside this morning and felt that stiff chill, you know it is perfect hockey weather. The timing is rather perfect, then, because tonight is my first trip to the Arena for a hockey game this year.

If you can’t tell I’m excited, I’m looking kind of like this kid today:

Everyone says it, but there is absolutely nothing like seeing a sporting event in person, and the perfect example of this is a hockey game. There are two mediums where hockey truly flourishes; the newer and lesser known of the two is HD television, and the obvious one is live and in person.

The first time I went to a hockey game when I was a wee lass I fell in love with the sport, and every time I hear someone make jokes about hockey I wonder if they have ever actually seen real hockey. If there was a national “take your ignorant friend to a hockey game” day, the sport’s popularity would skyrocket. (Hey, that’s just as legitimate is a holiday as buying your boss a cupcake…)

Heading downtown for a game is always an experience, but the first time back is often the most fun. Remembering all the little things you do before games, the places you eat, or the sights you see as you enter the building are sometimes more memorable than the game itself. Trust me, we’ve all seen those trap-infused 2-1 shootout losses against the Bruins or Devils, but it is for more than just hockey that you take the trip downtown.

If you can’t tell, I’m excited. I’m excited to buy a new hat at the Sabres’ store. I’m excited to find out how awful Coke products taste when poured by Delaware North. I’m excited to hear that first goal horn before warm ups that scares the crap out of little kids. Hopefully I will get to high five strangers and have a good time tonight, but there’s something else I’m excited for in a much different way.

I’ve talked about this before, but I’m excited to see The Aud on the way in. The Buffalo News had a quick article about a “final” tour of the Aud, which is very close to demolition. It’s strange, for a building I only visited a hand full of times I sure do have a lot of memories attached to it.

Walking past it has become a part of the journey when you go to a game. Every once in a while you hear an older man or woman telling children their memories of the building as they pass, and you can’t help but imagine their words for yourself. To me the thought that in a few months it will no longer be there isn’t sad but rather… eerie.

This isn’t a grain silo or some landmark building a notable citizen was shot in, this is a building that lived and breathed along with its visitors for decades. People add human qualities to sports venues when a crowd is particularly active, and in a way that is the perfect way to describe it. It takes people to attach shared meaning to an inanimate object, and what I’ve heard most about the Aud is what it sounded like when it “came alive.”

This really is for the best, you know. Hopefully Bass Pro actually does happen, and even if it does the real estate value of that land will insure something good happens to it. For twelve years that building has sat empty, with no real purpose but to juxtapose the old school with the new. Even so, I will never have a stronger memory as a sports fan as I did with “The Aud.”

Game Five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. The city and its people were finally brought to their knees by Ottawa, and as thousands of people fled like they had witnessed some terrible crime, there was silence. No stories, no curious questions, just a group of people as silent as the abandoned building beside them. It may sound stupid, but I wonder if it will be that way when it is finally gone.

Sure progress is good, but it certainly leaves you with some strange memories.

One Comment

  1. Becky

    The memories of the Aud…nice blog post Ryan.