We’re learning more about a highly-anticipated study on a future convention center in downtown Buffalo.
The Erie County Legislature heard presentations about the study, and also asked how much this would truly benefit the county.
The purpose of the meeting was for the County Legislature to get some of their questions answered, and hear more about their options from those that led this study.
There was no vote Thursday, but we are learning more from these leaders about how they may move forward with changes that would change the shape of downtown Buffalo.
Community members made their message clear at the convention center meeting.
They held signs, “If they build it, business will come.”
“Doing nothing is not an option.”
Joseph Lorigo, Erie County Legislature minority leader said, “These signs all say, “doing nothing is not an option, but I’m not sure that’s true.”
But Lorigo isn’t convinced moving forward with the study’s recommendations is the right way to go.
He said, “I have a lot of questions, how are we going to pay for something like this? There’s been no evidence presented to me at this point that the state is going to kick in any money and when I ask how much the state has kicked in for similar convention centers that answer is always elusive.”
The study was prepared by HVS Convention, Sports and Entertainment.
It recommends two options for a new convention center.
One option is to expand the current site into the neighboring Statler.
The other option is to build a new facility where the HSBC atrium currently stands,
The third option is to do nothing, in a what’s called “functionally obsolete” space.
Lorigo said, ‘Maybe we are trying to do something that really isn’t who we are. We’re not Pittsburgh, we are not Toronto, were not New York City, we are Buffalo.”
While local leaders in tourism say the convention center could make Buffalo a competitor for hosting major market events, Lorigo isn’t sure if the city would see a return on investment.
He said, “I haven’t seen any projections that show that if we are still operating at a deficit, than the answer is probably no. And I don’t know if the taxpayers of Erie County are looking to spend $450 million dollars on an if-come basis.’
Lorigo tells us more studies are likely before there’s any movement forward.