County legislators briefed on convention center study

Questions about new convention center linger

Mike Baggerman
October 11, 2018 - 1:35 pm

Members of the Erie County Legislature's Economic Development committee meet with HVS Consulting and Visit Buffalo Niagara for a briefing on a new convention center. October 11, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Visit Buffalo Niagara and HVS Consulting met with members of the Erie County Legislature on Thursday to present its findings on a study for a new convention center in the City of Buffalo.

The presentation, similar to the one given on September 20, was different because it gave members the Erie County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee the chance to ask questions pertaining to the study.

READ MORE: County officials release study on convention center

The three options under consideration for a new convention center include an expansion of its current location on Franklin Street, the creation of a new convention center near the arena, or keep the 40-year-old building as is.

“One of the biggest questions is how are we going to pay for something like this?” Legislator Joe Lorigo told reporters ahead of the meeting. “There’s been no evidence presented to me at this point that the state’s going to kick in any money. When I ask how much the state has kicked in for other, similar, convention centers across the state, that answer is always elusive.”

Lorigo said he had a private discussion recently with Patrick Kaler of Visit Buffalo Niagara. Lorigo added that he still believes the project is premature and that more dialogue is needed before a decision.

“Maybe we’re trying to do something that really isn’t who we are,” Lorigo said. “We’re not Pittsburgh. We’re not Toronto. We’re not New York City. We’re Buffalo. If we really have a discussion about whether or not we want to be in that business and get those bigger conventions, we need to look into that as well.”

Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte said that New York Association of Counties is investigating the potential state investment into the convention center.

Cost estimates for the convention center range from $263 million to $343 million.

Lorigo said he wants taxpayers to have a say via referendum.

IN DEPTH

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