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Plans for costlier HARBORcenter fleshed out

Chris Caya/WBFO News

If approved, shovels could be in the ground March 1 for the new HARBORcenter on the Webster Block in downtown Buffalo. The city's Planning Board was briefed on the now-$170 million project today. It includes a multi-level parking garage with 800 spaces, retail space, a 200-room hotel, and two ice rinks. Officials say costs have ballooned from the original estimate of $123 million due to the complexities of the site.

Buffalo Sabres Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson says one of the goals is to make Canalside a year-round destination.

"This is a huge hockey area," said Benson. "We have an enormous number of people from across the bridge that I think will come down and use this facility. But it's not just about the hockey, it's about the whole complex [and] how it fits in with everything else that's going down at Erie Canal. We'll make this a great destination."

The facility will also include a 'Hockey Center of Excellence' for training coaches and players, though the Sabres emphasize HARBORcenter will not be the team's practice facility.  

Benson said the hope is to make HARBORcenter the home of a local Division One college team as well as the Junior Sabres.