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Editorial: Report's sensible conclusion on proposed Niagara Falls project should be heeded

Now that the study examining the merits of a multiuse facility for sports, conventions and concerts is in, will officials heed its advice and wait until there’s more there?

Or will they ignore the $113,000 report and attempt to build it anyway? It might be a risky play, if the new structure does not turn out to be much of a lure.

So, back to the study by a Minneapolis consulting firm that advised against building any facility without knowing, for sure, whether groups would make good use of it.

The draft report says the city and Niagara County might want to wait at least six years before embarking on so large a project. That would give officials time to figure out whether other endeavors are working. They include state plans to attract developers to create outdoor recreational options and build a lodge in one of the state parks, along with private efforts to build water parks downtown.

The report by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International supported plans to upgrade the Aquarium of Niagara and to purchase blighted downtown areas.

The state, thanks to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo who pays particular attention to this region, announced a $24 million fund to “acquire vacant, privately owned land in downtown Niagara Falls.”

Left disappointed was Richard J. Palladino, business manager of Laborers Local 91, who promoted the idea of building a new multiuse facility based on his desire to create construction jobs for the building trades and “bringing more offseason business to Niagara Falls hotels.” But the study concludes that Palladino’s premise of “build-it-and-they-will-come” won’t work. He is right when considering that business groups might shy away from a facility that is too small but not necessarily when stating that the study is “putting the cart in front of the horse.”

Year-round critical mass would fuel such projects and even then, if it loses the million-a-year the report predicted, still not justify the tens of millions to build a multiuse venue. Given the intense interest, there is sure to be more to come on the subject. For now, there is a well-funded study that should carry significant weight.

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