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Why Western New York Must Create A Sports And Entertainment District



by Pat Freeman

The buzz in Western New York since March centers on the future of Professional football, and how can we guarantee that our beloved sport can remain viable in this area.

Most of our local sports media people were not prepared to adequately report on this issue accurately based on factual research. So what we are reading and listening too unfortunately is laced with opinions, and sprinkled with clouded optimism.

Since 1998 I started looking into what it would take to make sure our hometown team would remain here and I can honestly say most of my colleagues refused to listen then, and are not listening now. Well in my growing I can remember my parents telling me about the power of a made up mind, and why change will only come when matched with the force of determination.

My favorite sermon of who I believe was the greatest gospel preacher of this generation was “All the King’s Men” by the late Dr. Bennett W. Smith Sr., Pastor Smith in telling this magnificent story talked about the biblical figure Noah who conducted one revival for 120 years, worked on the ark by day, and preached at night. He never got a convert outside of his own family.

For the last 16 years I have said one message that Western New York needs a new facility with a new formula to make the NFL requirements more affordable on the taxpayer. Then in 2012 I was introduced to the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex LLC via Mayor Byron Brown. Since then I have worked closely with them on a daily basis making a vision into reality.

When looking at how to make your region affordable for the NFL team it requires new formula that increases revenue for the league’s ownership. This requires looking at changing how the relationship exists between region and franchise. The most successful small market relationship to date is Indianapolis, Indiana.

Who transformed their convention space, and merged with a Multi-use facility designed by HKS Inc., called now Lucas Oil Stadium. This facility is connected to the region’s convention space which was also redesigned and now ranks as the 17th largest convention destination in the United States of America.

The building of a stadium complex in Buffalo is one decision that changes the landscape of opportunity. You see we are not just talking about a new home for the Buffalo Bills home games but a facility with a retractable roof that can be used year round for a variety of events.

This is a multi-use stadium project that will attract various conventions, concerts, festival, trade shows, and etc. to Western New York. The plan is not just a stadium but it must be a plan for the total upgrade of our convention space, meeting rooms, and pre-function space. Once this master plan is implemented hotel investors will be ready to build, or expand their hotel operations in downtown Buffalo.

Indianapolis, Indiana put forth a very aggressive Convention Center Expansion project which included.

254,000 square feet exhibit space

63,000 square feet of meeting rooms

103,000 square feet of pre-function space

Convention Center Expanded to 566,000 square feet

113,000 square feet of meeting rooms

62,173 square feet of Ball room space.

Also they built skywalks that connect their downtown buildings so people do not have to go outside. The skywalk system connects more than seven blocks of commercial establishments.

You see this is the formula which now changes the landscape for not only our citizens but prospective new investors because of statistical data which shows an increase in value, and more revenue opportunities. The old way of doing things only puts the burden on the tax payer by raising ticket prices, parking, and possible PSL licensing.

By year seven, the average revenue increase from year one for teams with new stadiums was almost $90 million, compared to $68 million for teams without new stadiums. NFL teams with new stadiums realized an $84 million increase in franchise value after its first season in the new stadium. During that same period, the average franchise increase for teams without new stadiums was $24 million.

By year seven the average franchise increase from year one for teams with new stadiums was over $510 million, compared to $427 Million for teams without new stadiums.

In closing this is why you build a complex equipped with Super Bowl Specifications, yes I said “Super Bowl specifications” because if you can meet the specs of the greatest sporting event in the world it puts you in the running for any sporting event.

So I reject the notion that Buffalo will never have a Super Bowl because we are not Indianapolis, or Minneapolis. The moral fact of the story neither were these cities until they made up their minds to become what they are today.

This happened when they brought in the best design team in the world HKS Inc., and implemented a new formula of change in the relationship between region, and its franchise.

If you enjoy talking about the world of sports tune into the number#1 sports show in the nation every Saturday from 4-5:00PM hosted by WUFO Sports Director Patrick Freeman on 1080AM WUFO radio or via the internet at www.wufoam.com. Or catch Sports Update for clbTV (ch.20 Buffalo) and YouTube. Also join us for the number#1 recap show every Monday at 7:25AM with Lee Pettigrew, and The Mighty O’Ba Pat Freeman.

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