North Buffalo's Shoshone Park will be getting a major indoor sports complex, pushed forward by $1 million in state funds and more than $1 million in city money.
Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) led a news conference with an array of elected public officials and youth sports leaders Wednesday. Jacobs said the 75,000-square-foot complex will be good for the entire city because it meets a lot of sports needs.
"For use as baseball, soccer and lacrosse, as well as a host of other community and civic-related events," Jacobs said. "City residents will now have an option to bring their children to a local facility and sports teams that previously could not compete anywhere in North Buffalo during inclement months will have now a place here at Shoshone Park."
Many young people do winter workouts in the suburbs because there is no facility like this in the city and many parents don't have the transportation to go to suburban areas. The proposed site in Shoshone is also immediately adjacent to the LaSalle Metro Rail station.
The city money comes from Common Councilmembers Rasheed Wyatt and Joel Feroleto, who plan to redirect more than $1 million set aside for repairing Shoshone Pool into this project. This means design can start very soon and be completed next year.
While the park is inside Wyatt's University District, it is heavily used by residents of Feroleto's Delaware District. Wyatt said the cooperation will create something good for the entire region.
"Organizations will be able to use the facility year round," Wyatt said. "As we all know, Buffalo has a long winter and in the winter, what do our children do? Some of them stay at home. Now we have a facility that our children will be able to come out and play and not have to worry about the snow keeping them inside and be able to recreate as other communities do that don't have to deal with winter."
Don Morris, longtime president of the Hertel North Park Youth Baseball League, leads nearly 1,000 kids participating in leagues at Shoshone.
"We have now become the second-biggest Little League program in Western New York. Our numbers go up every year," Morris said. "Out of our 960 house kids, we've got 200 out of that play travel ball, boys and girls both. So, while baseball may be dying, it's not dying here."
Morris said his families spent $80,000 last year shuttling to workouts in the suburbs. The new complex would cut that by 75 percent.
"This is the premier youth Little League organization in Western New York," said Erie County Legislature Chairman Peter Savage, who coaches his daughters in leagues that play at Shoshone, "and it's not to diminish the work of other organizations, but it's a great organization because you've got individuals who give up so many hours of their time. These guys are out here because this is a passion. They work with these kids, day-in, day-out, year-round. This is in furtherance of that."