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Q and A with Larry Quinn

This past weekend we caught up with Larry Quinn, Sabres Managing General Partner, who discussed a broad range of subjects about the team…

Did you approach this first weekend of training camp with any trepidation, not knowing what may happen in terms of fan reaction? I don’t think the fans would ever be negative towards their team. There are a lot of kids down here, and that’s the best thing about it. Last year I told people that I thought young kids really got into hockey in Buffalo, and for a long time I thought we were lacking that six-year-old and 12-year-old who becomes hooked for life. Corporate buyers tend to be more fickle and they come and go but it’s the young ones who become the passionate fans. Many of our new season ticket customers report that their kids have a real interest in following the team and that was not the case a few years ago.

Do you feel vindicated the way the fans responded to the new uniforms? Not even near that! I never felt bad about the whole process so there is no reason to feel vindicated. As to the hijacking of the team logo before the official announcement, looking back today, this is the best guerilla marketing campaign anywhere. People were talking about the team—there are discussions and passions. Boy! How do you manufacture that? It’s the best marketing campaign you could ever do.

Compare this experience to 1996 when new jerseys were last unveiled. Well there was a lot of enthusiasm in ’96 when the jerseys changed. Remember we were also going into a new building so there was a lot of energy about that. I just always felt that black was not our identity, and whether people like the logo or not, our identity is still blue and gold and that was something we needed to get back to.

Are you pleased with the demand for tickets? We’ve already sold over 600,000 tickets, and last year, which was a very successful year, we sold around 650,000 tickets, so we’re just 50,000 short of reaching last year’s record. And while a number of games are sold out or approaching that, we still have roughly 80,000 tickets left and hope the fans will buy them up. But so far, so good.

Why aren’t the Sabres doing a game in Rochester this year? Yeah, keep in mind we’re not flying solo anymore; the players are our partners. They get a percentage of the revenues, so it’s our obligation to maximize those revenues. It was one thing for Tom (Golisano) to say ‘I’ll take the hit from my own wallet’, but now that wallet is somebody else’s. And to take part in revenue sharing we have to show revenue growth. I feel bad about that, but who knows? Maybe we can do an outdoor game there someday.