Sports complex, museum are perfect for waterfront

For more than 50 years, Buffalo’s outer harbor waterfront parcel has sat unused and in neglect. It has been the problem child of, first, the City of Buffalo and then the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Now the NFTA hopes to punt the ball again by shuffling the property over to yet another public authority, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. More significant, however, is the economic opportunity offered by a developer’s proposal.

This proposal for a multisport complex, to be designed and built by a leading NFL stadium partner, HKS Inc. of Dallas, and a North American Sports Museum, to be operated by the Strong of Rochester, makes sense for two key reasons. First, the project promises significant job creation that will stimulate economic growth. Second, the plan offers a visionary integration of park, green space and waterfront components for the site, literally an environmentally and sustainable environment that enhances a parkland experience. The new complex will create an inspiring gateway to downtown and a waterfront district that will once and for all alter the city’s negative image.

This large land parcel, comprised of more than 400 acres, affords plenty of room to allow all stakeholders a role in its success. The development group, together with local building trades unions and leaders of the African-American community, believe this project addresses Western New York’s urgent need for job opportunities; projecting a 10-year supply of living-scale jobs for tens of thousands.

The Buffalo Common Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling on the NFTA, the governor and the state to work with the developers by entering into a no-risk due-diligence exploration. But a few local officials have been obstructionists. Buffalo should not miss yet another Super Bowl field goal here. We need more accountability to the needs of the unemployed, future workers and the real public good. Gentlemen, stop the insider power games. Show us leadership and compromise skills.

Pat Freeman