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SOCIETY OF FORESTERS TO HOLD 2003 CONVENTION IN BUFFALO

The Society of American Foresters will hold its 2003 annual convention in Buffalo, a six-day event local tourism officials believe will have a $2 million economic impact.

The Buffalo Convention Center event is expected to draw 2000 attendees to the area and sell 3,800 hotel room nights, according to the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While Buffalo beat out Rochester, Kansas City and Milwaukee for the foresters event, the city lost a major track and field competition for 2004.

Buffalo was a finalist for the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in 2004, which will land in Sacramento.

The Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau has targeted amateur athletics as a growth market because of facilities available at the University at Buffalo and downtown. Buffalo hosted the 1998 NCAA Track and Field Championships.

The Society of American Foresters is a national organization which will bring forest planners, environmentalists and other industry professionals from across the U.S. to Buffalo.

The group toured the Buffalo Convention Center last fall, but was disappointed with the older cosmetic features of the building, according to Richard Geiger, president and CEO of the Greater Buffalo CVB.

Erie County has since agreed to spend $1 million to renovate the building, which will still be operating for several years even if state and local officials decide to build a new convention center in Buffalo.

"Because the county made a commitment to spend $1 million to renovate and update the Buffalo Convention Center, we were able to book this convention which will have an economic impact of close to $2 million on the local economy," Geiger said.

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