I was walking downtown the other night and saw the gaping hole where the desconstruction had opened the building. Like I said, the structure was nothing special, but what it could contain was sometimes amazing: bunches of Sabres games, a few Braves games (as I am old), seeing Bob Seger, Rush, The Kinks, the Who, U2, Springsteen and many other legends for the first time. The acoustics were usually pretty awful, but hey, when your heroes are right in front of you sound quality is not always omnipresent. Okay, so I was curious to go back and have a look. I didn’t want a seat from the place or anything (what can you do with a chair coated in 13 years of yuck), but seeing the joint fall back into itself for the Bass Pro store that is never going to come was a curiousity I couldn’t resist. I took a stroll tonight to look into the abyss and could see into where my Dad and I walked under the rink one night by taking the wrong turn after a playoff game or the night I was part of the post game press corps with Ch.2 (where I covered up my college radio logo from Scotty Bowman’s prying eyes with the Ch. 2 mic flag ( for a little guy, he scared the crap out of me)) to hearing my mom (my Mom?) wish a particularly offensive member of the Philadelphia Flyers a colorful good evening. I was only there for a few minutes tonight, but there was a steady stream of lookers and quasi-photographers like myself
When the place was full and the asbestos was hiding quietly in the ceiling, it really didn’t look much better or dramatically different, but what could happen inside fueled the imagination. During particularly good Sabres games or raucus E Street Band shows, the feeling is the place was palpable. There was a feeling in the beginnings of a French Connection power play or Clarence Clemons sax solo that you could feel in your chest. Like I said the place wasn’t attractive, but it was unique. That is the beauty of old joints like that, the shared experience. I can still remember the peanut vendor/huckster who worked the events. He would sit outside and bark “Before you go in the door! Stop at the Peanut Store!!