BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Construction is squeezing fans into a congested crowd outside First Niagara Center, which is raising safety concerns about exiting the arena.
Construction is progress, and it's a positive sign along the waterfront, but the Webster Block construction that just began right in front of First Niagara Center makes exiting that building much slower.
At the Buffalo Sabres last home game on Saturday, thousands of people slowly funneled their way around a fence which surrounds a portion of Perry Street and the entire Webster Block, where the Sabres are building a $172 million hotel and ice rink complex.
When an event ends, thousands of fans fill the foyer and as they head for the exits. Now they can no longer cross into the Webster Block. They must divert to the left or the right. That means if the First Niagara Center needed to evacuate quickly, it would slow down the process.
An official with Mortenson Construction deferred to the Sabres for any comment.
Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert tells News 4 the team has not received one complaint about it from fans. He says it's being done in 100 percent compliance with city and state inspectors, and points out that it's not always easy leaving a Buffalo Bills game or any other large event quickly.
City spokesman Mike DeGeorge says construction is not always convenient, but it is progress and city inspectors are watching it closely.
Thursday night, Bob Seger fans will be dealing with this crunch after the concert, and Friday there is another Sabres game. But News 4 is told that the fence should be moved further away over the weekend, making it much easier to get around come Monday's Sabres game.
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