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A team of Bass Pro Shops engineers and architects spent the last two days doing a detailed assessment of mothballed Memorial Auditorium, the planned site of a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store.

While Bass Pro executives, including founder Johnny Morris, have toured the dormant sports arena on a number of occasions, this marks the first time the company has had crews inside the building to begin the conversion process.

"Before it was fact-finding; now it's planning. This is the first step toward blueprints, models, architectural drawings of our Bass Pro," said Mayor Anthony M. Masiello. "This is the real deal."

Bass Pro executives are expected to be in Buffalo in the next month to meet with state, city and county officials to go over the recently signed memorandum of understanding for the $123 million project, turning that document into a series of contracts.

The 250,000-square-foot store is expected to open in 2007.