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Convention Center still signed off

Remember the last time the four-sided message board across from the Buffalo Convention Center was working?

Fix It doesn't, either.

"This has been broken for years and is seen by anyone entering or exiting the center," states a reader's e-mail to Fix It. "This . . . board does not work . . . and is also falling apart. This is very embarrassing to Buffalo."

"It's something that certainly we are aware of," said Edward Healy, director of communications for the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.

First, a little history from Paul Murphy, Convention Center director. The message board is part of the Convention Center's original equipment from 1978.

"It became too hard to maintain, and it just doesn't work any longer," Murphy said. He estimated it has been out of commission more than five years.

Actually, almost nine years. And it was on the blink for a decade before that, according to a 1998 report in The Buffalo News.

The board's demise launched a search by Convention Center managers at the time to determine who owns the thing, which cost approximately $217,000. It turned out the county had been given a license -- effective for the life of the Convention Center -- to erect the 25-foot tower on a city right of way on West Genesee Street.

Back to the future: 2002.

Erie County drew up a list of renovations and updates needed at the Convention Center, and signage was on that list, according to Murphy.

"We started with things that were most important," he said. All of the meeting rooms were renovated, the lobby was updated and new carpeting was installed, among other things.

"With the county's fiscal crisis, some of that work stalled out last year," Murphy said.

He said he has talked to some companies about signs, but the options have grown -- both in price and technology. They range from $250,000 "for something pretty basic" to as much as $800,000 for a sign with full-motion video, he said.

In the meantime, Murphy said, "The facility just has so many other need areas." A new roof is planned this year.

To advertise larger groups or events visiting the Convention Center, a $225 banner with changeable letters is stretched across Franklin Street.

Convention Center officials may revive a proposal to seek corporate sponsorship of a proper sign. It was among the options proposed in 1998 and again about a year ago without success, Murphy.

"We are not proud of it," he said of the situation. "We would like to have a fix that would be there tomorrow."

Fix It is here to help get action on problems that readers of The News encounter in their everyday travels. To report such situations, leave a voice mail message on the Fix It line at 849-6026, e-mail fixit@buffnews.com or send a letter to Fix It, c/o The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14203.

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