Stadium does not belong on Buffalo’s outer harbor

An outer harbor stadium, however far off in the distance it may be, would be a grossly uninformed attempt to revitalize Buffalo. If years of failed silver-bullet projects have taught us anything, it is that they just don’t work. Recent examples such as the Bass Pro failure and the subsequent “lighter, quicker, cheaper” success at the Erie Canal Harbor make clear that the key to rejuvenating Buffalo does not lie in a massive cure-all project such as a football stadium.

As countless economic-impact studies have shown, stadium projects do not tangibly benefit their regions. In the few studies where stadiums are cast in a positive light, it is often because these stadiums have primary tenants who use them more than a football team would (such as a baseball team). Furthermore, many other cities, Baltimore most prominently, have successfully revitalized their waterfront without relying on the colossus of a football stadium.

People, not massive buildings, need to be the focal point of the outer harbor. Given the current difficulty with getting to the outer harbor, and the presence of the neighboring (and more suitable for most events) First Niagara Center, it is not a stretch to imagine people streaming to the stadium seven days a year, while it remains listless and vacant for the other 358. Additionally, given the rash of player safety issues currently gripping the NFL, it is plausible that the league could go bankrupt during the lifetime of the stadium, leaving us with a useless building.

Instead of investing money in a large stadium, Buffalo would do better by investing in a new convention center, making the outer harbor more accessible and nurturing a diversity of small activities and businesses that would foster an enticing vibrancy in this part of the city.

Daniel P. Pellegrino