GUEST COLUMN: New Convention Center is Essential for Our Local Economy

Modified: March 6, 2020 3:03pm

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Date: 
3/6/20

Last year we held a public comment period following Phase II of our Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Market Analysis Study. The message from residents was clear: Buffalo should stay in the convention business, but in order to remain competitive with similar markets our region will require a modern convention center. My administration and our partners at TVS Design, Visit Buffalo Niagara, and HVS Convention Sports & Entertainment completed a study exploring the best site for a new facility in downtown Buffalo, and after examining all of the proposed locations the Delaware Site adjacent to Statler City provided the best value and “bang for our buck.”

This is a transformative architectural and cultural vision for downtown Buffalo, continuing the renaissance we’ve seen across this region over the last decade. This project provides a great opportunity to bring Buffalo and Erie County into the 21st century convention industry while revitalizing the Genesee Street corridor. Conversely, if we don't pursue a new convention center we will have to choose between investing tens of millions of dollars in an obsolete facility or leaving the convention business altogether and accepting the loss of $42 million of economic impact that the BNCC annually generates.

Building a new convention center keeps us in the convention business, grows the economic impact of our tourism industry and maintains the 32,000 jobs the industry supports. A new state-of-the-art convention center would be a uniquely Buffalo facility with the potential to attract nearly 500,000 visitors annually and would also attract bigger conferences than we can currently host. These visitors will stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, visit our attractions and boost our economy in many other ways.

This project is an investment that will require significant support from all stakeholders. In that vein, investment from New York State to complete the project will be essential, just as the state made financial commitments to convention centers in New York City and Albany. The estimated $440 million cost includes acquisition fees, demolition of the old site, construction of the new site, a new parking ramp, and relocating a historic structure on the parcel.

I would like to thank all of the community partners who worked to develop this plan in a thorough, comprehensive, and efficient manner. I would also like to thank the residents of Erie County who took the time to offer their feedback following Phase I of the study. This was an important step in deciding to move forward with Phase II to evaluate the sites and coordinate a plan. We will take additional public comments on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Architectural and Engineering Assessment until March 14. The comment form is available at: http://www2.erie.gov/environment/index.php?q=buffalo-niagara-convention-...

Now that we have a selected site, my administration and our partners are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work on this exciting project. This is just one more example of how we are all working together to create a better Erie County for all.