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Mayor, Governor and Bass Pro Announce Aud as Site of New Store

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – One of the nation's top sellers of sporting goods is coming to Buffalo.

Governor Pataki joined local, state and federal officials Monday morning to announce that Springfield, Missouri-based Bass Pro plans to renovate Memorial Auditorium for one of its Outdoor World stores.

The store will employ 400 people and will serve as the centerpiece of a major development effort along Buffalo's Lake Erie waterfront. The new project will include the Bass Pro shop, along with a new museum, hotel and restaurant.

Bass Pro Shops is one of the nation's top sellers of sporting goods. The chain has more than two dozen stores, including recently opened locations in Toronto and at the Finger Lakes Mall in Auburn.

New York State and local governments are kicking in some $66 million dollars as part of the incentive package that lured Bass Pro to Buffalo.

Mayor Anthony Masiello says the project will include several costly components: renovation of the Aud, demolition of the state Donavan building for parking, a new transportation terminal for Amtrak and a new off ramp from the 190.

"There are several major infrastructure projects that will not only help create a successful Bass Pro operation, but also bring people to the inner harbor, to HSBC Arena, to the Erie Canal and to the Naval Park, as well as an array of other investments we are planning for the waterfront," Masiello said. "So, all this money is not specifically for Bass Pro but will also open up the harbor for more attractions."

Masiello says this will be the first urban store for the company. But Bass Pro will blend it with a theme that promotes the region's connection to the Great Lakes.

"The Bass Pro people are really going to design a new state-of-the-art store to dwell on the significant history of the Great Lakes," Masiello said. "They think it will be even a greater draw then the other stores they have."

Bass Pro is pledging to invest a minimum of $57 million into the project.

Retiring Congressman Jack Quinn, who was a key player in luring Bass Pro to the region, says the commitment will jump start waterfront development. Quinn says it will "electrify" new investment along Buffalo's waterfront.