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Convention planners tour the "New Buffalo"

Visit Buffalo Niagara

You might call it a show-and-tell to highlight the “New Buffalo.” Meeting and convention planners trekked to the region Thursday as Visit Buffalo Niagara hosted a tour for 23 people who could help generate business for the area.

They explored a variety of venues, including Canalside, HarborCenter, new hotels and even some new breweries.

“Our main selling point with this tour is to really showcase the new Buffalo,” Visit Buffalo Niagara CEO and

President Patrick Kaler told WBFO.

One high-energy event saw the visitors participate in Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt. Two teams raced around the city, looking for clues at attractions that included the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Darwin Martin House.

“They’re as excited as we are as residents of Buffalo to see what’s taking place,” Kaler said. “Some of these operators and planners have been here before, but they haven’t been since the transformation that’s taken place, especially down at Canalside and our downtown area.”

Credit Visit Buffalo Niagara

While the spotlight was focused on new developments, there remains an old issue to address. Kaler said the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center has been criticized for being antiquated and too small for a city of Buffalo’s size.

“We either need to do improvements to our existing convention center or explore the possibility of expansion or a new convention center, which is exactly what Erie County is looking at right now,” Kaler said.

The county is in the early stages of hiring a consultant to conduct a feasibility and economic impact study. The study will decide whether a new convention center is built, or the current one is renovated.

Kaler said the convention center, which is nearly 40 years old,  is the nation’s second oldest.

The convention center issue aside, Kaler said the meeting planners were “energized” by the things they saw and experienced.

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