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Sports, music and broadcasting join forces for proposed museum

Music galleries celebrating homegrown musicians, from Ani DiFranco and Rick James to Harold Arlen and Grover Washington Jr.

Broadcast booths showcasing the on-air stylings of Irv Weinstein, Frankie Crocker and Van Miller.

Sports artifacts recalling the exploits of Jack Kemp, Pat LaFontaine, Bruce Smith and Patrick Kane.

These cultural and sports luminaries and many more will be celebrated in one Buffalo-Niagara Hall of Fame if three local halls of fame and a sports fan group have their way.

“It’s going to be the only museum of its kind in Western New York, for sure,” said Dave Gillen, the nonprofit’s chairman. “We believe sports, music and broadcasting are all things that touch people every day. We not only have the history from before, but the history that’s even being created today.”

The collaboration brings together the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, Fandemonium and the Buffalo Broadcasters Association.

But first, they must find a location and the money.

Gillen said the amount of money needed is “the great unknown.”

“It will depend on how big a facility we have, and what kind of arrangement we have for rent,” he said.

The group has a commitment of $25,000 from Phillip Beuth of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association.

A Kickstarter campaign is underway to accept donations. But with two weeks to go, only about $4,000 has been raised, well shy of the $50,000 hoped for.

“It’s nowhere near where we need to be,” Gillen conceded. “The biggest problem we have right now is we don’t have a location, so it’s really hard to say this is what we are going to do and here is where we are going to do it. It’s hard to raise money without having anything tangible to talk about.”

The museum could be sited in Erie or Niagara county, as long as it’s a good location with tourist activity, Gillis said.

The concept, developed with help from Hadley Exhibits, includes interactive displays with permanent and temporary exhibits. A theater, research area and educational and conference space also are envisioned.

The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, which began in 1990, has a small display space in First Niagara Center, and the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, which started in 1983, has a room in the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls.

The first-year budget for the museum is over $2.6 million. It includes $1.5 million for 20 staffing positions, $525,000 for rent and a marketing budget of $105,000. It also anticipates almost $2.5 million in revenue, climbing to $3.1 million in revenue in the third year.

“This portion of the plan is really a big question mark until we find the space and then find out all the particulars around it,” said board member Mike Billoni, a former vice president and general manager with the Buffalo Bisons. “There are all kinds of wonderful possibilities, and we are very optimistic that it will happen.

“This is also one facility that when it is built, they will come.”


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