Mark Poloncarz on Thursday announced plans for a preferred site to build a new Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The site sits on a little over 4 acres of land on Delaware Avenue, just north of the Statler Hotel, in downtown Buffalo.
Almost immediately after the announcement, questions are being raised about project, estimated to cost over $441 million.
County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said his own independent study shows interest from the construction of the convention center would be over 250-million dollars, bringing the total costs to almost $700 million. Not lost in those numbers is who will pay for it.
“This costs money, period,” he said. “And the County Executive has zero specifics on who is going to pay for it, and at the end of the day, taxpayers will.”
The taxpayer burden is also on the mind of Erie County Legislative Minority Leader Joe Lorigo. Lorigo says the building of a new convention center could coincide with plans for New Era Field.
“The last lease included 40-million dollars in taxpayer investment and the new one, I’m sure, is going to include something like that,” he said. “So in addition to debt service that we would have to pay on new convention center borrowing, we’d also have to pay money on anything that we’re going to be doing for renovating the Bills stadium.”
Lorigo wondered why there is a need for a new convention center when business for the current convention center has improved over the past 5 years.
As the body which has the ability to move the convention plans forward, Lorigo doubts Poloncarz will have enough legislative support to see his vision through.