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AVOID DOWNTOWN CORE FOR CONVENTION CENTER

The second time around is our chance to get it right.

Had the Buffalo Convention Center been built in the correct location to begin with, today we would simply be planning to expand it.

Instead, we are planning to spend $95.5 million to help correct the mistakes of the past.

As someone who has visited scores of convention centers and worked in many of them as an employee of the Buffalo office of Southex Exhibitions of Toronto, I cannot help but notice that the location of a convention center or trade-show facility within a community has much to do with its long-term success. We have produced large trade shows in centers around the world.

Look at the locations of really successful buildings, such asMcCormick Place in Chicago and the Javits Center in New York. They are not located in the heart of downtown, but rather are built slightly outside the downtown core. Here, there is plenty of land for hotel development, visitor parking and future expansion.

Even facilities in markets that will be competing with Buffalo for convention and trade-show business, such as Baltimore, Syracuse and Providence, tend to have similar locations in their cities.

For example, the proposed convention center in Boston will be built just outside downtown in an area prime for future development.

Of the two sites under consideration for the new Buffalo Convention Center, the Marine Atrium site is the obvious choice. It is not land-locked like the Mohawk Ramp site. An abundant amount of land surrounds the Marine Atrium site, allowing for commercial development and future expansion.

Parking also is critical to a convention facility in places like Buffalo, which tend to attract regional or statewide conventions and trade shows. Many of these visitors drive to the conventions, so parking must be convenient.

And don't forget about the local taxpayers who are supporting this facility. When they attend meetings and events, such as boat or auto shows, they want to park without hassle.

Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past. Build the convention center where there is plenty of room for development, expansion and parking.

Paul E. Schweitzer
Amherst