Filmmakers approached Buffalo officials recently about turning Memorial Auditorium into a media production center. OK, we know what you're thinking - another hare-brained idea.
Au contraire. As implausible as the idea sounds, it's not totally far-fetched. This area has already had some success in luring top-level filmmakers and actors. And the Western New York region is catching the attention of overbudgeted filmmakers looking for a cheap place to shoot.
However, before we put on our sunglasses and start arranging power lunches between our people and your people, a little reality check would be useful.
Early estimates put construction and operating costs at $25 million, with another $12 million set aside for possible cost overruns and expansion. Taking our cue from the movies, we want somebody to show us the money, as in private money.
In addition, the city already has a primary developer for the Aud and other adjacent waterfront properties in Baltimore-based developer Cordish & Co. Any project would have to mesh with Cordish's plans for the Aud. A Cordish official has said that developers are open to the concept of a production facility in the Aud.
It seems to us, however, that plans to transform the Aud into an urban entertainment mecca may be more - how shall we say this? - achievable, and be a better fit with the waterfront. Moreover, some of the ideas suggested for the Aud - a children's museum, live entertainment, shops, restaurants and other attractions - probably are more likely to end in success. Still, it's fun to dream about actors and movies coming to Buffalo on a regular basis. And aren't dreams the stuff that movies are made of?