Hall of Fame looks to preserve and highlight the region's sports and culture

Aug 6, 2018

Plans are moving forward to create the BFLO Hall of Fame Experience.  It’s a combined effort of three active local groups: Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, Buffalo Broadcasters Association and Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

It's a lofty goal as organizers seek to raise between $30 million and $50 million for construction of a permanent facility that could encompass 50,000 square feet of space.

"Our timing is so great with what is going on in the renaissance in Buffalo. And we feel like this is going to get a lot traction," said Therese Forton-Barnes, vice president of the organization's board of directors.  In order to reach their goal, fundraising will likely need to reach beyond the local level.

"I reached out to all the Bills Backers around the world. We added up over 800,000 Bills Backers from Japan to San Francisco and all over the country," said Forton-Barnes.

At least at its earliest stages, the organization appears to be linking its hopes to the Buffalo Bills. Legendary sports broadcaster Chris Berman, who has been an unabashed supporter of the Bills through the years, was brought to the city earlier this year to host a publicity luncheon. Forton-Barnes says a major push for exposure should be expected in October when the Bills host the New England Patriots for a Monday night game. 

Still, the BFLO Hall of Fame Experience, Forton-Barnes says, is about more than the region's NFL franchise. They are looking to preserve and highlight the area's sports, music and broadcasting scenes.

"We think the three are intertwined in a neat way."

Visitors to Chef’s Restaurant in the coming weeks will get a chance to learn more about the ambitious effort.  An interactive kiosk has been installed in the restaurant. The exhibit will be moved soon to another iconic establishment, Ilio DiPaolo's in Blasdell.

The BFLO Hall of Fame plans on using modern techniques developed by a local company, Hadley Exhibits on Elmwood Avenue.

"They've done Cooperstown to the 9/11 Exhibit to stuff all over the world, actually. They're doing all the exhibits and it's not going to be just like a museum of stuff, it's also going to be...interactive," Forton-Barnes said. 

"It will entertain, we like to say, kids from eight to 80."