I have it. Let's turn Memorial Auditorium into a giant Casino/Children's Museum. It's perfect.
Gamblers could dump, er . . . leave, the kiddies to explore giant milk bottles and live bug zoos under the watchful eye of college graduates dressed in dinosaur costumes and other amusing apparel. Gambling revenues would solve the city's financial woes. Kids would watch less television. And . . . our young adults would have one more reason not to leave Buffalo to pursue some ridiculous career.
This will certainly fly. Especially if we get Andrew Rudnick and the Greater Buffalo Parochialship, er . . . Partnership, to give the idea their imprimatur. What great buzz that would generate next time Rudnick stands for election, er . . . coronation, or whatever.
Anyway, there'd be a big press conference where carefully orchestrated sound bites would be passionately proclaimed on the steps of City Hall. We could even get someone to do an artist's rendering of the finished project for the front page of the newspaper. As we lifers know, an artist's rendering in The Buffalo News is a sure sign of, er . . . something.
Part of the attraction could be a visit to Ye Olde Buffalo Shoppe in the Cobblestone District. There, we could unload those messy cobbles, thereby earning revenue for the city. Tiles from the Louis Sullivan building would fetch a handsome price. And think what we could get for the Frank Lloyd Wright stuff!
Clearing the cobbles would create space for a giant waterfront parking lot. This vast space would also serve nicely as the terminus for the city's signature "SuperSpan," connecting those happy free-trade partners, the United States and Canada.
From the lot, visitors could walk to the Aud/Casino/Children's Museum/enterprise zone/Cobblestone District attractions. Shuttle buses could run to the new Ohio Street zoo or the waterfront aquarium. I think I saw artist's renderings of those once. In addition to SuperSpan, the newly refurbished Canadiana could transport our Canadian neighbors back and forth in Old World elegance.
The killer piece in my plan is to get the NFTA to let us use the Pierogi Bus to shuttle consumers from Ye Olde Buffalo Shoppe to whatever fun-filled family destination they fancy.
It'd be just like Boston or Baltimore or San Francisco, plus something they never thought of . . . the Pierogi Bus. In fact, we could design a whole fleet of buses featuring the ethnic foods of the various immigrant communities that made our city great. The Borscht Bus! The Corned Beef and Cabbage Bus! The Chicken Wing Bus! Wow!
Let me tell you, the city takes on a whole new face when you're riding that Elmwood 20 and staring out the tinted yellow windows of a giant pierogi garnished with chives.
Further alleviating the city's financial woes, Ye Olde Buffalo Shoppe would also serve as headquarters for the "Sponsor a floor in City Hall" program. Just like the "This mile of the Thruway is sponsored by the Kiwanis" program.
Sponsors could pay a fee for a floor in City Hall. Using the Pierogi Bus technology, their advertising could be artfully wrapped around an entire floor of City Hall. No more pesky waterfront view to distract our noble civil servants.
The ads would be visible throughout the city, and the revenue dollars would pour in (as long as the treasurer remembered to cash those pesky checks).
Advertising for the entire project would be cheap. Those nasty, faded newspapers lining the Woolworth and Payless Shoe Store windows would be replaced with bright, happy posters announcing the project.
The cardboard boxes in the windows of empty Main Place Mall stores would be replaced with project merchandise like Casino/Children's Museum visors and model Pierogi Buses.
The plywood on the old AM&A's windows is a perfect canvas for detailed artist's renderings of the Children's Museum/Casino interiors. That is until the upscale clothier opens in there. (Maybe the city and Bon-Ton acted too hastily in paying someone to buy that gem.)
I have a secret weapon to assure that this project will be enthusiastically embraced by our local officials, elected and self-appointed alike. Let it leak out that Jimmy Griffin is against it.
The best way to pull this project off is to immediately form a tri-partisan committee of city, county and Amherst representatives. We must strive for diversity on this committee. Therefore, I propose that at least one member of the committee must have graduated from somewhere other than Canisius College.
Wildly avant garde? Maybe. But I, for one, have faith that the citizens of Buffalo are ready for such bold innovation.
JENNIFER A. COLEMAN is a Buffalo attorney.
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