The concept of creating a sports hall of fame for Buffalo had been suggested and discussed many times over the years. It was brought to the fruition in the fall of 1990 when local businessman John Kapelewski got things moving.
Several years earlier, Kapelewski had helped create the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. Following his transfer to Buffalo, he discovered the Queen City was without a sports hall of fame of its own. Shortly thereafter, Kapelewski began recruiting a board of directors, a group of local businesspeople and diehard Buffalo sports fans, all dedicated to reaching their goal — the creation of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Incorporated as a non-profit organization, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame group began meeting regularly in 1991, putting together plans for an inaugural induction dinner, creating a nomination form, distributing them to Western New York sports fans, tabulating results and announcing the first class of 11.
The induction ceremony has been held in various downtown Buffalo venues. The first five (1991-95) were held in the Statler Golden Ballroom, then the dinner was moved to the floor of the First Niagara Center (formerly HSBC Arena) when it opened in 1996. The arena was home to the event for the next 13 years and continues to house the Hall of Fame exhibit. During the next five years (2009-13) the induction ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, but the event became too large for that site, and in 2014 found a new home at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
With the induction of the Class of 2015, the 25th class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1991, the total membership will reach 291. This community’s sports hall of fame is one of our nation’s most unique since its scope is all encompassing. Our honorees live, have lived and worked in Western New York. They are men and women who have contributed to the welfare of sports in Greater Buffalo by performance, time, effort and/or financial support whether that sport be amateur or professional.
The public is welcome to visit the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame’s exhibit, located in the pavilion area of the First Niagara Center just outside the Sabres Store. Memorabilia, photos and information, are displayed in honor of the men and women who have left their mark in sports.