The Buffalo Sabres announced that former First Niagara Financial Group Chief Executive Officer John Koelmel has been named the president of HarborCenter.
Koelmel, who lost his job with First Niagara in March, will oversee all aspects of HarborCenter including the two fill-size hockey rinks, hotel, restaurant and 850-speace parking structure.
"While 'unique' is an often over-used word, in this case it's very accurate," Koelmel said of HarborCenter. "It's a one-of-a-kind facility that will position Buffalo as a destination."
Koelmel spent 10 years with First Niagara Financial Group, including six years as CEO. Prior to his work with First Niagara, he spent 26 years at the Buffalo office of KPMG, an international audit, tax and advisory firm. HaborCenter's new president called the relationship between his past work with First Niagara Bank and his new position with the Sabres a "coincidence at best."
Sabres owner Terry Pegula was not in attendance, but released a statement:
"John has a long history as a successful businessman in the region, which will serve him well in his new role. We're excited to welcome him to the team and look forward to his contributions as president."
Sabres' Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson said construction will be taking big steps in the next week. He also announced there were no other candidates interviewed for the position.
HarborCenter's rink, restaurant and retail stores are expected to open in September 2014.