The Buffalo Niagara Convention Center is "antiquated and beyond its useful life span," according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. WBFO's Chris Caya talked with Poloncarz about plans for replacing the facility.
Poloncarz says the current convention center is more than 40 years old and to continue growing, the region needs a convention center for the 21st century. He says it will be a huge project but he has "no interest" in raising taxes to pay for it. But the county executive says there are options.
"Often you will see in other communities that they create a convention center authority to build and run the facility. We don't have a convention center authority though we have an organization that helps make determinations of what the convention center does. But the convention center is owned by Erie County. We're the ones that invest the money it. Other communities have these authorities that do it and maybe that's something that we consider in the future with regards to a new convention center," Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz says the county will also be sitting down with the Buffalo Bills when the time is right to discuss the team's plan for the county-owned football stadium in Orchard Park. The Bills' current lease expires in three years. There has been talk of combining a new convention center with a new stadium, but Poloncarz says the county has never considered it and he doesn't believe the Bills have either.
"There's very few communities in the United States that have a combo convention facility and football stadium. They're generally separate. Why? Because the NFL wants 100% control of the facility. And if you think about it, from basically late July through now January, the football stadium is busy with the football team. Conventions like to be in on the weekends. You can't be in on the weekends when you've got football games. It just doesn't work well," he said.
Poloncarz says he will be announcing the preferred site for a new convention center in Buffalo in the next month or so.