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Greg Pope, Buffalo Sportz Corridor
On Monday, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. hired architecture and design firm Perkins and Will to assist with the process.
"Our goal today, was to authorize Perkins and Will to do a blueprint master plan," said Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. President Thomas Dee on Monday. "The purpose of that is to bring all of the previous studies together, and then seek public input. Arrange for community meetings, and arrange for community groups to come and express what they'd like to do."
Dee says that Perkins and Will are under contract until October, so a plan for the Outer Harbor should be finalized by October 1st at the latest.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also took Monday to officially designate Buffalo Harbor State Park as the 180th park in the State's system. The park will take up 190 acres of the 340 acres of Outer Harbor land that was obtained by the State from the NFTA last summer. Construction on the park, which will feature a destination playground, picnic pavilions and fishing access will begin later this fall. You can see some renderings of the park HERE.
Independent of that process, a group called Buffalo Sportz Corridor unveiled their concept for a massive amateur sports center to include a stadium and convention center.
Buffalo Sportz Corridor organizers held a news conference to discuss the project Monday morning.
"We have been working on this project for the past two years and we have met with so many officials about our plan and everyone has given us praise. .. so that's why we feel, as soon as this master plan for the outer harbor comes out, to really put out a plan for Western New York," says attorney Greg Pope, representing developer Jefferson Burke Jr. and others involved in the effort.
The plan would include a stadium, but not on the outer harbor land, and concentrate on amateur athletics and tournaments.
" The stadium would be located just south of the Small Boat Harbor. There's an industrial park there that's basically empty. There's enough parking there for a stadium. What we are planning is a stadium on the east side of Route 5. On the West side of Route 5 would be the Buffalo Convention Center on the waterfront, between a couple of grain mills, with a platform over the top of Route 5 where the future subway could be extended to for dropping off people," said John Karan with Left Coast Design Studio Architecture ,
The plans for the large parcel of outer harbor land would include a Buffalo area Sports Hall of Fame, a beach for beach volleyball, and venues for amateur baseball, football, lacrosse, track, and swimming . It would also feature bike paths, increased public access for boating or fishing, and a selection of restaurants and entertainment venues.
The state is expected to release it's vision for much of that land in the coming weeks, with a panel convened by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. at work screening various concepts, but not necessarily working with specific developers yet.
In Spetember of 2013, the state reached an agreement to purchase outer harbor land from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and developed a broad plan for the land, pictured above
Approximately 190 acres of the transferred Outer Harbor lands, a small boat marina and a beach, will become a new state park. The remaining, adjacent land is primarily yet unplanned but will ultimately feature mixed-use waterfront development after the state's Erie Canals Harbor Development Corp. and a waterfront panel screens possible developments there. (READ MORE from the ECHDC)
Both this new Buffalo Sportz Corridor project and a prior one appear to be operating outside the framework of those plans. Earlier, the Greater Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Complex- a group spearheaded by businessman George Hasiotis and Nicholas Stacick - sought development rights to create a create a large multi purpose stadium and convention center on the outer harbor for the Buffalo Bills.
Stracick is a former major league umpire who enjoyed a considerable windfall in 2002 after he and a business partner successfully sued Walt Disney Co. for stealing their idea for its Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.
That $1.4 billion plan is also being advanced outside of the state's formal review process, and would need a land option from the state to proceed. So far, while the Buffalo City council has endorsed the idea, it has received little respect or consideration from the Bills or Erie County.
"We're pleased to see the idea of a waterfront stadium gaining momentum," said George Hasiotis of Greater Buffalo Stadium & Entertainment Complex, LLC in a prepared statement. "We remain confident that when the question is called, the work that GBSEC had done so far in lining up financial resources and expertise.. will be the most attractive option for our community."