Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today joined Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, to discuss the findings of the recent 90-day public comment period on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Market Analysis and Feasibility Study (released in September 2018) and to outline next steps in the Convention Center process. During the public comment period, 668 distinct responses were received with many focused on the question, “Based on the results of the study, should we invest in a strategic long-term plan that would help to create a state-of-the-art convention center for Buffalo and Erie County?” 86% of respondents were in favor of such an investment.

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “The public comment period revealed that the vast majority of respondents are in favor staying in the convention business and recognize the necessity of constructing a state-of-the-art convention center to do so. While only a small portion of respondents chose a preferred site, it is clear a majority of respondents are in favor of investing in such a new convention center on whichever site that might be. This was an essential first step, and bolstered by this information we will be taking the next step and issuing a Request for Proposals to assess both sites from an engineering perspective.”

A Request for Proposals to study both sites will be issued later in March and will encompass historical reviews of the sites, utility inventory and analysis at both sites, and a comprehensive scoping of pre-construction needs at both sites. The RFP will also comprehensively assess the condition of the current Buffalo Niagara Convention Center while exploring the feasibility of different expansion scenarios there. The engineering assessment is expected to continue until late 2019.

“We’re encouraged to learn that the majority of Erie County residents are overwhelmingly in support of remaining in the convention industry and agree that doing nothing is not an option,” said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “We’re looking forward to working with the county to identify the best next steps for the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center’s future and ensure that meetings and conventions remain a growing piece of the region’s tourism industry for decades to come.”

Of the 668 distinct responses received in the public comment period, 66% were City of Buffalo residents or business owners and 30% were Erie County residents or business owners located outside of Buffalo. 13% of respondents were employed in the hospitality industry, and 13% were convention center customers or users.

Of the 86% of respondents favoring investment in a state-of-the-art Convention Center, 64% had no preference on either site, 25% favored the HSBC Lot site, and 11% favored an expanded BNCC site.