By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Michael – Louis Ingram, and I am a native New Yorker.
As someone who has been involved in journalism for almost 30 years (and covered the National Football League for over 20), I have seen how the League has transformed into this generation’s version of IBM.
Cities learned at their peril that the financial clout of every NFL team is listed among the 50 most lucrative sports ventures – in the world.
My first Super Bowl as a journalist (in 1992) was to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl after then – Arizona governor Evan Mecham refused to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday as a national holiday (the game was originally scheduled for Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix).
When the Players Union refused to play in Arizona due to the King snub, the hasty move to California cost the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and surrounding areas over $300 million in revenue – in one week.
After the Dallas Cowboys defeated our Buffalo Bills in that Super Bowl, Gov. Mecham “got religion” – and signed MLK’s birthday into law.
I make this point only to emphasize how the financial viability of any potential for a city lies in two things – having the venue in place (took less than two weeks to move the game) and have suitable attractions to bring in fans, tourists and the like:
Ticket prices shot up from $125 a ticket (face value) in that Super Bowl to $1000 (for now over the 13 Super Bowls I have personally covered). Hotels, restaurants, nd ancillary revenue are raised in hopes of a desired return. Said desire was so manifested in Indianapolis, where $650 million was garnered in the two – week period because they had everything in place to not just claim a Super Bowl, but to stay in a rotation for future Bowl games and special events (conventions, parties, mega concerts, etc).
Indianapolis used their downtown to their best advantage, and a similar process could continue in Western New York in Buffalo.
On my radio show “Soul Tree Radio – In the Raw” my colleague Pat Freeman has been a frequent guest on several occasions and has revealed how for more than 50 years, Buffalo’s outer harbor waterfront parcel has sat unused and in neglect.
Mr. Freeman spoke eloquently and sensibly as to how the proposal for a multiple – sport complex, to be designed and built by a leading NFL stadium partner, HKS Inc. of Dallas, and a North American Sports Museum, to be operated by the Strong of Rochester, makes sense for two key reasons.
The promised significant job creation should stimulate economic growth; and the plan offers a visionary integration of park, green space and waterfront components for the site, literally an environmentally balanced and sustainable environment which enhances a parkland experience. The new complex will create an inspiring gateway to downtown and a waterfront district that will forever alter the city’s negative image.
Buffalo has a distinct advantage in that the combination of land and water location could potentially uplift it to the top of the rotation within a decade; while revitalizing real estate potential long before the first kickoff (Baltimore and their Inner Harbor Project is a great example). The added facet of doing this to the NFL’s ‘specs’ also facilitates a win – win premise in meeting the needs of being a potential Super Bowl /Final Four/BCS city as well.
As I write this, the Santa Clara area in California has already secured the rights to Super Bowl L as ground has been broken…
The parcel of land spanning over 400 acres, affords plenty of room to allow all stakeholders a role in its success. The development group, together with local building trades unions and leaders of the African-American community, believe this project addresses Western New York’s urgent need for job opportunities; projecting a 10-year supply of living-scale jobs for tens of thousands.
With this year’s Super Bowl coming to the Greater New York /New Jersey area the potential for a billion – dollar payday (weather notwithstanding) is a very real possibility.
Since your Common Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling on the NFTA, the governor and the state to work with the developers by entering into a no-risk due-diligence exploration, it seems only fitting that avoiding a “wide right” faux pas due to in – house agendas hurts all New Yorkers, and especially those hurting for jobs in the western section of our great state.
As someone who has seen the process go from the press box to the cash box I implore you to strongly consider and approve the efforts made by the HKS/Strong groups to bring jobs, growth and hope to Western New York.
Michael – Louis Ingram
Black Athlete Sports Network