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 first five induction ceremonies were held at the Statler Golden Ballroom. In 1996, upon the opening of the HSBC arena the dinner moved to the playing service of the HSBC Arena. The arena (now the Frist Niagara Canter) was home to the event for the next 13 years and to date continues to house the Hall of Fame exhibit. Bigger attendance numbers and accessibility saw the induction ceremonies move to the Hyatt Regency Buffalo over the next five years. For the first time in 2014, the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center will serve as host for both the announcement of the class of 2014 and the induction ceremonies.
With the induction of the Class of 2014, the 24th class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1991, the total membership is 279. 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 (formerly HSBC Arena), just outside the Sabres Store. Memorabilia, photos and information, are displayed in honor of these great men and women.