This article was written by traveling sports fan Dan Brewer, and may contain affiliate links.
Buffalo Sabres fans are passionate about their hockey team. With a proud 50 year history, which includes Hockey Hall of Fame players such as Pat LaFontaine and Dominik Hasek, it’s always fun to see a Buffalo Sabres game live at the KeyBank Center.
While it’s true, the Sabres haven’t found much playoff success in recent NHL seasons, the Sabres fans haven’t given up the faith. The atmosphere in the KeyBank Center is lively and fun, cheering on their beloved Sabres as they try to return to the post season to play for the Stanley Cup.
No matter if you are coming to Buffalo on a business trip, or boys road trip to see the Sabres play, you can’t miss going to a Sabres game at KeyBank Center to experience the excitement of an NHL game live, in person.
A DIY Buffalo Sabres Tour Package
Why pay a premium to a travel agency, when it’s super easy to book your own sports trip to see a Buffalo Sabres home game at KeyBank Center. I’ve been booking my own sports road trips for over a decade and am excited to share with you how easy it is to go to an NHL game in Buffalo, NY!
This guide to attending a Buffalo Sabres game takes you through step-by-step everything you need to know to have the ultimate sports road trip. We guide you through how to get to Buffalo, where the Sabres play, how to find great seats at KeyBank Center within your budget, fun things to do in Buffalo and so much more.
How to Get to Buffalo, New York
Flying to Buffalo, NY
Sabres fans flying into Buffalo will land at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF). With 8 airlines flying domestic flights into Buffalo, it should be easy to find a good flight into Buffalo.
Located on the north-east edge of Buffalo, it’s approximately a 20 minute drive from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to downtown Buffalo, home of the KeyBank Center. Given the central location of the Sabres arena, you’ll can likely get by without a rental car if you want to take a taxi or Uber to/from the airport.
Driving to Buffalo
If your sports road trip to Buffalo, NY goes beyond catching a Sabres game and you want to see the other top Buffalo attractions such as Niagara Falls, a Buffalo Bills game, etc., we recommend you get a rental car.
Buffalo is a moderate-sized city with a population of approximately 1.1 million. Buffalo has a good highway system, making it easy to get around by car. Granted, with nearly 20,000 Sabres fans leaving KeyBank Center at once, the post-game traffic around downtown can get pretty congested.
If you are taking your own car on a sports road trip to Buffalo, keep in mind you’ll need to find a hotel near the KeyBank Center which offers parking. We provide recommendations on KeyBank Center hotels below.
Where do the Buffalo Sabres Play?
Since relocating from the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in 1976, the Buffalo Sabres have played their home games at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo, NY.
Located on the shores of the Buffalo River in the southern end of downtown Buffalo, Sabres fans go to home games at KeyBank Center arena. With a seating capacity of 19,070 for NHL games, there is a great seat for everyone at the KeyBank Center.
Where is the KeyBank Center?
Unlike the rural Buffalo Bills stadium, the Buffalo Sabres stadium is in downtown Buffalo. The KeyBank Center is located on the Buffalo River, just minutes south of Interstate 190 and east of the Buffalo Skyway.
KeyBank Center Address: 1 Seymour H Knox III Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA
Is the KeyBank Center in a Safe Neighborhood?
The KeyBank Center is located in downtown Buffalo, so this may have you asking is it safe? Anytime you have a hockey stadium in the downtown district of a major American city, it’s not going to be the safest neighborhood in town.
In fact, according to CrimeGrade.org, the zip code around the Buffalo Sabres’ stadium is in the bottom 19% of all USA zip codes for safety. This sounds bad, but for a neighborhood in the downtown of a major US city, it’s pretty good actually.
That said, it’s always a good idea to take appropriate steps to keep safe going to a Sabres home game. Improve your odds by finding a secure place to park your rental car near the hockey arena, or get a good hotel near KeyBank Center.
For what it’s worth, when I attended a Saturday night Buffalo Sabres hockey game, I felt quite safe. With thousands of hockey fans pouring into (and later, out of) the KeyBank Center, there were lots of people around, and having a close parking spot helped too.
Parking at KeyBank Center
There’s tons of parking lots all around the KeyBank Center. The parking lots near Keybank Center uniformly charged $25, but I was able to park at the Harbour Center parking lot right next door to the KeyBank Center for only $5 as I entered before 2PM. (The price goes up to $25 after 2PM).
Two advantages of parking at the Harbour Center is that it is connected to the KeyBank Center via an indoor, elevated walkway. It’s also in the same building as the Southern Tier Brewing Co. – one of the best sports pubs near KeyBank Center.
If you are visiting Buffalo on a budget, there is free parking on Moore Street. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the KeyBank Center. It’s a small street and it looks like the free parking fills up quickly, but if you arrive for your Buffalo sports road trip early in the day, check it out and you might find free parking for the Sabres game.
Choosing a Buffalo Sabres Home Game
Buffalo Sabres Schedule
Over the course of a full NHL season, the Buffalo Sabres will play 41 regular season home games.
The Buffalo Sabres home games will be scheduled as follows:
- Thirteen of the Buffalo Sabres home games each season will be against fellow Atlantic Division rivals, which includes some of the most iconic NHL franchises in the league. The other Atlantic Division teams are the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators.
- Twelve home games will be against the non-divisional teams in their own conference. The eight teams in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference are the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- The remaining 16 home games are against the 16 teams from the Western Conference, with each team playing in the KeyBank Center once.
Best Buffalo Sabres Games to Get Tickets For
With over 50 years of history, the the the Buffalo Sabres have developed some intense rivalries over the years. Whenever one of the Buffalo Sabres rival teams plays at KeyBank Center, it’s bound to be an exciting hockey game.
Games Against Division Rivals
The Buffalo Sabres play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. There are seven other teams in the Atlantic Division, including their two biggest rivals; the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins.
One of the Buffalo Sabres biggest rivalries is against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The source of this NHL rivalry is primarily due to the close proximity of the two cities – it’s only a two hour drive between the Sabres arena and the Maple Leafs home rink. The Sabres seem to have the Maple Leafs number, winning over 60% of their lifetime hockey games.
The other big rivalry is between the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins. The Sabres and Bruins have met in the NHL playoffs eight times in their history, with the Bruins coming out on top in six of the series. Unlike the Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins have a dominant record against the Sabres, winning almost 60% of their lifetime matches.
Games Against Legendary NHL Teams
Who could pass up seeing the Sabres play a legendary NHL team such as the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Blackhawks or the New York Rangers. A game against recent Stanley Cup winners the Colorado Avalanche or the Tampa Bay Lightning would would be memorable.
To be honest, I came to Buffalo primarily to see the Bills play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. But I’ve been a lifelong NHL fan (go Flames!), so when I saw I could also go to the Sabres play the Chicago Blackhawks on the Saturday before, I was totally in!
Finding The Best Seats in KeyBank Center
With a seating capacity for NHL games in excess of 19,000, there’s a great seat in KeyBank Center for everyone! Based on decades of attending live NHL games, here are my recommendations to find the best seats for your Buffalo Sabres home game:
Lower Bowl Between the Hash Marks
Having gone to hundreds of NHL games at a variety of arenas around the league, I can tell you that the best seats for your first Sabres game are in the lower bowl, on the sides between the hash marks (the lines on either side of the face-off circles in each end). Being in the lower bowl allows you to be close to the action, where you’ll witness the grace and speed of the NHL players, while allowing you to feel the impact of the bodychecks and the puck hitting the glass.
If possible, try to sit in row 10 or higher. If you sit too close to the ice, you’ll be turning your head a lot as the play goes back-and-forth on the ice.
Yes, the Sabres single game tickets in the lower bowl between the hash marks are going to be expensive, but if you can find room in your budget, they are worth it. Personally, whenever I go on a sports road trip, I always skimp on my hotel room so I can afford better seats to the hockey game.
Recommended Sections at KeyBank Center for Lower Bowl Seats
Sections 104 – 106 (behind the players benches)
Sections 116 – 118 (behind the penalty box)
200 Level Club Seats Between the Hash Marks
If you’d like to make your Buffalo Sabres game into a really special event, why not treat yourself to a game in the 200 Level Club seats? The club seats at the KeyBank Center are just above the lower bowl seats, offering an outstanding vantage point to watch the hockey game.
In addition, the club level seats are exclusive for ticket holders. Inside the club, you’ll enjoy a less crowded environment, in-seat food and drink service and several bars in the concourse. These luxuries come at a cost though, as the 200 Level Club Seats are often the most expensive seats in the KeyBank Center.
Recommended Sections at KeyBank Center for 200 Level Club Seats
Sections 206 – 208
Sections 217 – 219
Best Value Seats – Lower Bowl Corners
Ok, so the club seats and the lower bowl seats between the hashes are the best seats in KeyBank Center. Well, guess what? They are also the most expensive seats at KeyBank Center too. If you are looking for great seats for your first Sabres game, but need to watch your budget, try getting a ticket in one of the lower bowl corner sections.
I had Calgary Flames season tickets in the corner of the lower bowl at the Saddledome and I loved sitting there. As the play comes into your zone, you often feel a thundering bodycheck as players compete for the puck. Or simply feeling the power of a puck hitting the glass on a shoot-in will forever change your appreciation for NHL goalies!!
As with the lower bowl tickets behind the benches, try not to sit too close. If you are 10 rows or higher, you’ll enjoy an incredible view of the ice and you’ll never have to move your head to follow the play. If you are too close, you’ll have a very hard time following the play at the far end of the ice.
The best part is that lower bowl corner seats at KeyBank Stadium often sell for noticeably less than the lower bowl tickets along the sides.
For my first Sabres game at KeyBank Center, I sat in Section 114, row 13. My seat was one section over from the ideal lower corner section, but they were still excellent seats. My row was high enough to have an exceptional view of the game, yet close enough to feel part of it.
Recommended Sections at KeyBank Center for Lower Bowl Corner Seats
Upper Level – Between the Hash Marks
And finally, the upper level tickets behind the benches at KeyBank Center also offer good value for your money. Many hockey fans prefer to sit in the upper sections so they can see the plays develop more easily, and the atmosphere is often more lively than in the more expensive lower bowls.
If possible, sit as low as possible in the upper deck, but avoid the first few rows as there is safety glass running along the balcony, and the support bars may partially obstruct your view.
Seats in the upper level along the sides are typically less expensive in cost to the lower bowl corner seats, but not substantially so. We advise you pick your Sabres tickets based on your personal preference.
Recommended Sections at KeyBank Center for Upper Level Seats
Sections 305 – 307
Sections 319 – 321
How to Buy Buffalo Sabres Tickets
Ticketmaster is the official ticket seller for the National Hockey League. When I look for single game NHL tickets, I tend to jump between the three biggest resellers – Ticketmaster, StubHub and Vivid Seats.
I have purchased from all three ticket platforms and don’t really have a preference. I browse all three to find the best seats I can find in my price range – then I simply buy them, regardless of which reseller it’s on.
Best Hotels for a Buffalo Sabres Home Game
If you are attending a Buffalo Sabres home game from out of town, you’ll need to find a good place to stay near the KeyBank Center. We’ve done all the leg work for your and have written a full post about the best hotels near KeyBank Center (I just haven’t published it yet). In the meantime, you can search for the best hotels near KeyBank Center on Booking.com.
Regardless of your budget, I’m confident you’ll find a great place to stay for the Sabres game. Just remember – skimp on the hotel and spend your money on better tickets instead!
Best Places to Eat Before a Buffalo Sabres Home Game
As you’d expect, there are many restaurants along Main Road, which run north into downtown Buffalo from the KeyBank Center. The best of the restaurants near KeyBank Center are:
- Southern Tier Brewery Buffalo: An incredible sports bar with an insane amount of TVs, located right next door to KeyBank Center. Get there early!
- The Draft Room Buffalo: Right next door to the KeyBank Center, wash down your pub food with over 20 local and regional beers on tap.
- Pizza Plant Italian Pub – Canalside: Pre-game craft beers and pizza, with lots of big screen TVs.
- Pearl Street Grill & Brewery: A four-level sports bar with pool tables.
- Cobblestone Bar & Grill: You’ll love the pre-game atmosphere at this popular brick pub near KeyBank Center.
The Best Buffalo Chicken Wings
There are lots of great restaurants near KeyBank Center, but the downside is that they will be PACKED prior to each hockey game or event. A great alternative is to grab some Buffalo chicken wings around downtown Buffalo before heading down to the waterfront to catch the game.
During my time in Buffalo, I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Buffalo Bike Tours. Although it was too late in the season for their famous Buffalo Chicken Wings bike tour, he was kind enough to give recommendations for some excellent chicken wing restaurants in Buffalo:
- Gene McCarthy’s: I devoured some excellent chicken wings here prior to the Saturday night Sabres – Blackhawks game. Try their “McCarthy’s” sauce – a sweet & spicy sauce with blue cheese crumble.
- Gabriel’s Gate: Arrive early to this Allentown pub as they are renowned for having some of the best wings in Buffalo.
- Anchor Bar: The Anchor Bar is one of the restaurants who claim they invented chicken wings. The Anchor Bar claims they were the first to serve chicken wings in 1964!
Additional Info on Attending Buffalo Sabres Home Games
KeyBank Center Stadium Guide
In this guide to attending a Buffalo Sabres game at KeyBank Center, I’ve included all the major details to ensure you have the best sports road trip ever. Arena policies are changing all the time, so rather than list them here, take a few minutes to review the the KeyBank Center “Arena Guide“.
This handy arena guide explains:
- Prohibited items
- The alcohol policy
- The bag policy
- Arena parking
- The camera policy
- Entry gates
- Ride sharing & public transportation
Buffalo Sabres Mobile App
Downloading the Buffalo Sabres mobile app is a must prior to your first game at KeyBank Center. Not only can you access your mobile game tickets, you’ll have access to tons of information about the Buffalo Sabres and KeyBank Center.
Best Things to do in Buffalo Aside from a Sabres Game
If you are coming to Buffalo for a Sabres home game, why not stay a few extra days? There are so many awesome things to do in Buffalo aside from going to a Sabres game. Here are a few ideas for things to do in Buffalo during your sports road trip:
Buffalo Bills Game
If you’re coming to town for a Sabres home game, why not make it a weekend road trip and see a Buffalo Bills game at Highmark Stadium. The NHL and NFL have overlapping schedules for most of the Sabres season. In addition, typical NFL games are played on Sundays, which makes it a great opportunity to pair it up with a Saturday night Sabres home game!
Without question, the best thing to do in Buffalo is to visit Niagara Falls (besides an NHL game of course). Niagara Falls are a must see attraction when you are in town for a Buffalo Sabres game. You have two options to see the Niagara Falls – the Canadian side and the American side.
Of the two options, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is considered the superior experience, so grab your passport and hop across the border! But, don’t worry if you don’t have a passport, the American side of Niagara Falls is pretty awesome too.
Niagara Falls – Canadian Side
The Canadian Niagara Falls are so easy to see, and it’s free too! There is a long walkway which follows the Niagara River, providing excellent views of both the American Falls and the more famous horseshoe falls. You can get remarkably close to the edge of the horseshoe falls. You can’t miss seeing this outstanding natural wonder while in Buffalo!
There’s plenty of other stuff to do in Niagara Falls, including a 30 minute boat tour which takes you right below the falls. You know this boat tour… everyone wears ponchos and gets absolutely soaked. It’s an incredible experience and a must do while in Buffalo for a Sabres game.
Ensure you see the best of the Canadian Niagara Falls with a day tour!
Niagara Falls – American Side
The oldest state park in the United States, Niagara Falls State Park is a great thing to do in Buffalo if you don’t feel like crossing the border into Canada.
Goat Island is the best place to get up close to the very eastern edge of the Horseshoe Falls. It’s an exhilarating experience to be so close to the edge of one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world!
Goat Island also has many nature trails which circle the island and an up-close viewing platform in-between the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls.
While in Niagara Falls State Park, I’d recommend visiting the giant green viewing platform for a great view of the American Falls a decent view of the Horseshoe Falls. It’s a steal at only $1.25!
Also included in your ticket is a ride down the elevator to go to the Crow’s Nest, a viewing platform at the bottom of the American Falls. Being so close to the falls, you can truly see and feel the power of the American Falls.
Buffalo Naval & Military Park
One of the coolest things to do in Buffalo before an early season Sabres game is to take a tour through Buffalo Naval & Military Park. Here, on the shores of the Buffalo River, just minutes away from KeyBank Center, you’ll be able to explore a submarine and two decommissioned warships. I couldn’t resist this incredible opportunity to get to extensively tour these warships the Saturday afternoon before the Sabres game.
The most extensive part of the self-guided tour is the tour though the USS Little Rock. You’ll see virtually the entire ship, with displays of historic military uniforms, old weaponry, models of ships, and so much more.
As much as I enjoyed the warships at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park, I enjoyed the submarine the best. As you might imagine, it doesn’t take long to walk from end-to-end of the submarine, but it’s incredibly interesting.
A tour through the warships at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park is one of the most unique things to do while in Buffalo for a Sabres home game. I really enjoyed how close this Buffalo attraction was to the KeyBank Center – it’s a perfect fit to anyone visiting Buffalo for a Sabres game.
Whenever I go on a sports road trip, I love to eat good food. Whether it’s a local specialty, such as Buffalo chicken wings, or simply great pub food before the Sabres game, I can’t resist a good pre-game feast.
I expect most Buffalo Sabres fans also love to eat, so why not burn some pre-game calories with some fresh air and exercise. When I visit a new city for an NHL game, I try to find a walk that gets me some exercise and allows me to see the best parts of town. In Buffalo, the best way to earn your pre-game chicken wings is the Riverwalk.
The Riverwalk begins just outside the KeyBank Center (you’ll be there anyways) and continues along Lake Erie until the Peace Bridge (and even beyond!). The Riverwalk visits the Buffalo Naval & Military Park, before visiting many additional proceeding through several beautiful parks, many of which are right on the shores of Lake Erie.
Prior to the Sabres game, I walked all the way from the KeyBank Center to the Buffalo Yacht Club, taking a detour through downtown Buffalo on my way back. The entire scenic Buffalo walk only took me about 2 hours.
Explore Downtown Buffalo
After my enjoyable walk along Lake Erie, I decided to visit downtown Buffalo on my way back to KeyBank Center.I began at the beautiful City Hall building, a prominent Buffalo landmark, visible from just about anywhere in town.
The views of this historical building are great from Niagara Square, which notable for its obelisk honoring William McKinley (the 25th President of the United States, who was fatally shot in Buffalo). From there, I visited Lafayette Square for some people watching before visiting Sahlen Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons baseball team.
Being Saturday afternoon, downtown Buffalo was pretty quiet and most shops were closed, but it was a nice chance to see the best landmarks in Buffalo without the crowds of a busy weekday.
Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum
In the early 1900’s, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company used to manufacture luxury cars in Buffalo. The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum showcases the legacy of the Pierce-Arrow cars, and is considered one of the most unique of its kind.
The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum is located in downtown Buffalo, just a few minutes away from the KeyBank Center.
Get Your Buffalo Sabres Gear
Attending a Buffalo Sabres game is way more fun when you are wearing team gear along with the rest of the fans. Check out the selection below or browse this extensive collection of Sabres jerseys and gear on Amazon. You’re sure to find the perfect gear to wear to KeyBank Center for a Sabres home game!
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