Sometimes I engage in conversations on a Facebook group called Preservation Ready Sites. The group covers a variety of preservation and development issues around Buffalo.
Last Friday, a group member posted a link to a Buffalo Business First article about County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s thoughts on a new convention center with a question: Do You Think That A New Convemtion Center In Downtown Buffalo Is a Good Idea? It stirred up a lot of conversation in the group.
Most of the conversation surrounded either not building one or building a new one to compete with other cities for convention business. But then Bernice Radle posted this comment:
We should think creatively and use te space we have – central terminal, old churches, the freight house.. Buffalo could host a variety of conferences using those large spaces.
Lets think of a new convention center model that’s creative and shows off our historic city assets!
And then I responded…
Why does Buffalo always want to play keeping up with the Joneses? I know our convention center isn’t all nice and sparkly, but does that justify building something new. Has the region miraculously become a hot convention destination only lacking a facility to satisfy conventioneers dreams of hosting their event in Buffalo? I like what Bernice Radle wrote above. To add to that, I would like to see us find a niche in the convention biz. Instead of dreams of hosting super fantastic conventions in our new super shiny fantastic convention center, let’s become good at hosting smaller conventions and earn a great rep for that.
Big thinking on a new convention center or attracting more convention biz doesn’t have to mean a mega convention center. Big thinking is taking a realistic look at what Buffalo can do convention-wise and really getting good at it. Buffalo may not be able to compete with other cities for first tier conventions, but we could become the place for second or third tier conventions. And there is nothing wrong with that at all.