BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski couldn’t help but note what a turbulent several weeks it’s been.
“You know, it’s kind of ironic, about a month ago, we were on the field announcing the cancellation of the season, and you think, that is the lowest of the low points,” he said.
And to deliver the news Friday that the Toronto Blue Jays would call Sahlen Field home, Buczkowski said, is big boost for Buffalo.
And now, Western New York leaders and businesses owners are hopeful.
“There are at least two hotels that will be completely booked with Blue Jays as well as opposing team players, and the work that will arise as a result of that,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “There are restaurants that will benefit because they have to provie catered food…even cleaners for the uniforms that will benefit from this.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown chimes in too, making a brief statement of congratulations during Friday’s announcement at Sahlen Field.
“This will be great for the hospitality industry,” Brown said.
Poloncarz says the MLB and the Blue Jays will pay for the upgrades at Sahlen Field, leaving no cost to taxpayers, and they’re tapping into a local company for help.
Clark Rigging in Lockport has been contracted to help with the stadium lights.
“We have AAA baseball lights, we have to upgrade them so that they are safe for major league play and for major league telecast, television,” Buczkowski said.
Not only will this be some help to Buffalo’s general economy, but also some local businesses are hoping to directly benefit too.
Gene Szerbiak is a small business owner who whooped to provide fan cutouts of the MLB allows local people to participate.
He’s owned Print 2 Web for 10 years. He started making the cutouts of people for offices as an aesthetic alternative to taping off seats for social distancing.
Now, he wants Buffalo to know he’s ready for the call on nearby Main Street.
“I think Buffalo’s excited to have Major League Baseball here, but disappointed that we can’t attend some of these games, but perhaps people can provide cutouts, and we can fill the stadium with Buffalo fans,” Szerbiak said.
Union Pub is right next door to the field. making the Bisons’ season cancellation particularly devastating to a restaurant that’s already suffered for months.
“It was quite a blow when we heard that, I mean, we really do count on the actitivity down here to keep us going, but, yeah, this is a nice little breath of fresh air,” said general manager Jay Medynski.
Even without fans in the stadium he says people will enjoy watching the game on TV nearby.
“Grabbing some of that energy from right across the street that all of us desperately need right now,” Medynski said.
Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.