Thanks Bass Pro, We Owe You One!
Next time you stroll down by Canalside, or the Commercial Slip, take some time to think about what could have been. It's been almost two decades since we heard the words "Bass Pro", uttered from the then Mayor of Buffalo; Tony Masiello and Governor George Pataki. Of course we all know what happened next, six years of studies, haranguing, and just plain time wasting. In the end it may have been the defining moment in the history of this city.
At this point, I feel the need to say thank you to Brian Higgins. He had a plan, and it was risky, but he saw something in the Waterfront. He felt that like all great cities, we should exploit what we have, and simply put he felt it was Lake Erie.
Buffalo, has long questioned what to do when it comes to the Lake, and it's development. The two should have always went hand in hand, but serious pollution in the 1950's and 60's left it in very rough shape. It took time to rectify some of the mistakes of the past, but it was able to be done. In those early years of the 90's and beginning in 2000, the questions were asked what can we do to revitalize the area? The answer was simple but it needed a voice. Enter Higgins, who fought for the money to help Buffalo develop an idea, that by not putting a business on that site we could attract people to come into the city, and then the businesses will follow. Pretty crazy huh?
Simply put it worked! Turning the Canalside and Commercial Slip into a family friendly park right on the water, set with the old canals that existed in the 1860's attracted people back into the city. Then slowly but surely they came, businesses like The Liberty Hound, Tim Hortons, Marriott, and with Terry and Kim Pegula's help The HARBORCENTER, and (716) Sports Food and Drink. Other sectors of the city began to see development and by then Governor Cuomo had already announced the Buffalo Billion, and things really changed. Roswell Park is expanding, the Trico Building is being turned into a boutique hotel, The Richardson Complex is going through a 50 Million Dollar transformation, and there's even more.
So as you walk around Canalside today, and partake in the rides, carnival food, amazing weather, and the views of our waterfront, stop and take a moment to reflect how far we really have come. And ask yourself this, "Would a Bass Pro Shop have created all this change?"