BUFFALO, NY - The City of Buffalo has just lost what could have been a huge convention.
Representatives from the National Association of Sports Commissions were in Buffalo recently, and liked what they saw until they took a look at both the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, and the 500 block Main Street.
The association was planning to have one of their upcoming conventions here in the next 2 to 3 years. Buffalo was one of 5 cities they were considering, but was dropped out of contention after they decided that the first floor of the Erie County-owned Convention Center did not meet their expectations.
Visit Buffalo Niagara's Peter Burakowski told 2 On Your Side that the association felt that parts of the Convention Center was too "dated."
Burakowski also said the association decided against Buffalo because of all the vacant store fronts, especially those on the 500 block of Main Street. It's a stretch of the downtown street we have been reporting on for months.
"We don't want to be just missing out on things. We want to have Main Street be something that's exciting for people to come to. Something that's vibrant, that's something that's an asset to us. Not something that we have to apologize for," said Burakowski.
2 On Your Side Reporter Patrick Moussignac asked Mayor Byron Brown, "Isn't it still a slap in the face that someone is saying 'look, Main Street is not vibrant'?"
"No I don't think you can look at it that way," Mayor Brown replied. "No community gets every convention that they bid for, that they go after. We win a lot. We don't get them all."
The National Association of Sports Commissions would've brought in about 700 attendees. Visit Buffalo Niagara says these attendees would have stayed at least 3 nights at hotels in Buffalo, and bring in a over $1 million to the local economy.
Burakowski said $7 million was spent some time ago to renovate both the exterior and the second floor of the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Visit Buffalo Niagara has booked over 400 other conventions that will take place in Buffalo over the next few years.