The Buffalo Sabres learned during their home opener Jan. 20 that they oversold season-ticket parking spaces in their arena ramp.
On game day mornings since then, the Sabres used orange cones stamped to reserve five to seven public parking spaces on Illinois Street for people who paid to be in the ramp.
But the practice ended Thursday afternoon.
“Going forward, we won’t be putting cones out in Illinois Street,” said Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert. The city was unaware of the practice until a constituent called Thursday, said Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer.
“No one called me, no one asked me permission, nor would we ever grant that,” Helfer said Friday. “The bottom line is they never asked permission, and the bottom line is they cannot do it.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” he said.
The spaces on the cobblestone street are designated for metered parking at $2 per day, but the meter heads were removed, leaving the parking there free.
The spots are occupied at various times by people working in the arena or visiting nearby bars and restaurants such as Lagerhaus 95 and Cobblestone.
Non-Sabres employees such as SportsService concession workers or security guards typically use those spaces legally for free, but the club needed to block them to accommodate season-ticket holders, Gilbert said. The move forced people who normally park there either to pay to park in a ramp or lot, or seek street parking elsewhere. Neighboring Mississippi Street has a two-hour limit, making it unsuitable for arena employees working longer shifts.
Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk, who represents the Cobblestone District, said he would be more concerned if the Sabres had blocked off a larger number of spaces but said the organization probably should lease space for people who paid to be in the ramp and leave the public spaces for the public. “Seven doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s a public street,” he said.