The NCAA basketball tournament is again bringing in plenty of cash to fill the coffers of local restaurants, bars and hotels. National, State and even regional athletic events always mean new money and Buffalo could use all that it can get. This is an area that I believe could use a boost by those who bring in new tourist dollars.

Buffalo does have a Sports Commission that is a subsidiary of the CVB and is described as: “a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to promote Erie County and Buffalo nationally and internationally as a premier sports tourism destination for the economic benefit of the community by boosting hotel occupancy and encouraging visitor spending.”

The Advisory Board for the Sports Commission is a who’s who of the local professional teams, Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and media outlets. Looking at the names on that Board and their listed employers, it’s been a few years since its been updated. Hopefully it’s not a reflection on the relevance of the group or how often their advice is solicited.

This article is not meant as a knock on the existing organization or the group of people who are involved with the Buffalo Sports Commission. This is but a suggestion that they should receive financial help to beef up the effort.

There was talk about seven years that the New York State Legislature was looking into creating a state-wide agency to recruit more athletic tournaments and events in the Empire State. The State budget crisis ended that plan before it got off the ground, but it would have been a step in the right direction.

Cities like Rochester and Albany have their own Commissions and they have paid off dividends.

The Syracuse and Albany areas have been benefited for years by their central locations and have hosted many high school championships. Syracuse is host to the high school football championship and Albany has basketball and wrestling. Those events are guaranteed revenue year in and year out.

The Buffalo region has had great success with the NCAA basketball and hockey championships as well as host to the Empire State Games and World University Games back in the 90’s. Facilities make a regionĀ  a prime location for such events and Western New York has major league facilities. It’s working with those facilities that makes a splintered effort frustrating.

Obviously the use of Ralph Wilson Stadium or the First Niagara Center means working around the schedules for the Bills and Sabres. Both organizations have shown strong commitments to events that are beneficial to the region and have representatives on the Buffalo Sports Commission.

UB has also had facilities used in the past, although the mandated SUNY fees charged for use of Alumni Arena to the NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships meant they never returned.

Obviously pricing and facility flexibility is important when wooing an out of State event as well as hotel accommodations and recreational availability. In those areas Buffalo has improved over the past decade.

Climate works against Buffalo in the winter only because of travel concerns. Hockey, basketball and wrestling events are all indoors so the temperatures outside means little, but sightseeing on off hours is important. You can bet those in town for the NCAA’s will venture up to Niagara Falls on Friday if the weather permits.

A well funded Buffalo Sports Commission could pay off in dividends in both bed and sales tax. Conventions are great as well as summer tourism, but bring in more jocks to make those cash registers ring.

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