Cultural Tourism

28 Dec

A few weeks ago, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt wrote this:

“There’s a lot of ball-dropping going on,” said Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, a Buffalo Democrat. “This is, in my opinion, a crisis in the making.”

Hoyt, in a letter to the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau, expressed concern about a “lack of cooperation” between the Buffalo Sabres, who are hosting the event, and the CVB.

“We can’t do these things in silos,” he told The Buffalo News. “What’s important is to take what little time we have left to make this right.”

The Sabres, who spent more than a year planning the 12-day, 10-team international tournament, reacted angrily to Hoyt’s claims…

…Hoyt said his concern is that whatever planning has taken place is insufficient for an event as large as the World Juniors.

He referred to the 2000 NCAA basketball tournament, when out-of-town fans walked out of HSBC Arena with no clue where to find food and drinks.

“What concerns me is that we have an opportunity to create thousands of Buffalo ambassadors,” he said. “The alternative is we leave thousands of visitors saying, ‘Boy, I saw a great tournament but Buffalo— what a lousy city.’ ”

At the time, some roundly criticized Hoyt for “bashing” the Sabres because of his ongoing feud with Floridian billionaire and Sabres-seller Tom Golisano.  Based on the outrageous & breathless media outrage over a 17 year-old hockey player’s Tweet calling Buffalo a “ghost town” that’s worse than Medicine Hat, Alberta, it seems as if Hoyt was exactly correct.

What, precisely, is a 17 year-old supposed to do holed up in the Hyatt or in the last Adam’s Mark on the planet? He can’t go drinking.  There’s quite literally no shopping.  The downtown mall is an embarrassment. All the stuff a teenager might enjoy is either up on Elmwood or out in the suburbs.

Too bad Mark Goldman’s Ohio Street arts corridor isn’t yet open.  Too bad Etem can’t go watch a laser light show projected onto a rusting eyesore of a grain elevator in subfreezing temperatures.  Too bad there’s nothing – not even a taco truck – at Canal Side for Etem to do or see.

While Allentown merchants banded together to promote their neighborhood to visitors, there’s no easy way to get there if you don’t have a car.  Not everyone enjoys the allure and mystique of grabbing exact change and waiting 20 minutes in the cold for a bus to appear.  A dedicated bus circuit specifically for hockey players and attendees wouldn’t have cost a lot, and would have gone a long way towards showing off the city and helping to entertain a visitor population that isn’t here to get drunk or admire Frank Lloyd Wright’s handiwork.

I realize that it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks of the city, and that it shouldn’t be a media frenzy at all.  The point here is to bring up the fact that Hoyt specifically foresaw this and asked that planning be adequate to accommodate out-of-towners who don’t have cars and want to do things.

80 Responses to “Cultural Tourism”

  1. Steven G. Poyzer December 28, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    The folks in Hoyt’s district had the opportunity to rid themselves of the incumbent in the November election. They didn’t take advantage of that opportunity, so now they must put up with his bluff and bluster for another two years.

  2. oh puhleeze December 28, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    What exactly is there for teenagers to do in the suburbs except go to the mall to hang out and buy shit? Oh, except for smoke pot on the drive to the mall that is.

    • Alan Bedenko December 28, 2010 at 9:31 am #

      Going to the mall to hang out and buy shit is precisely what teenagers enjoy doing. Whether they live in the suburbs or the city. They don’t enjoy the architectural splendor of Greycliff, nor do they enjoy a Bellini with some niblets at Sample.

  3. Chris Charvella December 28, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Something tells me that Steven missed the point…

  4. Kevin J. December 28, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Sam Hoyt was re-elected because those of us who live in the distrct support his work and voted for him to return.

  5. peteherr December 28, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    I agree with Hoyt. Wouldn’t have taken a whole lot for the Sabres to call the CVB or Buffalo Place or one of the other event planning organizations in Buffalo and said “hey we got this thing going on, what else can we do”.

  6. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I agree that the tweet made by the 17 year old hockey player was overplayed by the media. That kid had the audacity to say what everybody knew – that Buffalo looks like a ghost town. Of course it does. That’s not news. I don’t know anybody who didn’t admit that TWENTY FIVE FREAKIN YEARS AGO. Now this kid is saying that the king has no clothes on. How dare he say that! Cue the fake outrage. Cue the chorus of denials, in unison. Everybody!

    A bus tour or shuttle bus for hockey players sounds easy enough. You mean that wasn’t done? It looks like Mr. Hoyt’s concern was well founded.

    I’m not the biggest hockey fan. (Ok, I might watch the Sabres in the playoffs) But even I know that “HockeyTownUSA” is not Buffalo. Detroit acquired that title and possibly some smaller cites. Trying to appropriate that name is downright thievery. Did the promoters think that the hockey players and their fans wouldn’t know the difference? Just another embarrassment for a city that has just undergone a monumental gubernatorial embarrassment. I feel embarrassed that some local promoter would present the city of Buffalo as “Liar-Town USA”. Please, no more.

    Right now no one can make downtown Buffalo look vibrant and alive. But you can bus people to other parts of the city that are alive. And you can stop lying about Buffalo. You have to start somewhere. Can you blame the tourists for taking cabs to Niagara Falls? God, let’s hope that the cab drivers told them the difference between Niagara Falls USA and Canada.

  7. Rudybob December 28, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    There are two new temporary bus lines for this event. See the info @ and the surprisingly impressive document they put together listing places to eat/drink in the associated PDF @ – the Elmwood route mirrors route 20 but drops off/picks up directly in front of HSBC arena. The Franklin bus looks like it’ll get you close to but not quite to Allentown.

    Unfortunately they don’t link to this info @ – or maybe I just can’t find the link. When I rode the Elmwood shuttle to the US/Finland game on Sunday me & my friend were the only ones on the bus.

  8. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 9:56 am #


    Good point. Cruising around the mall and checking out the chicks is exactly what the players are looking for. Some buses to the Galleria would be a hot ticket.

  9. Mike in WNY December 28, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Give me a break. One insolent 17 year old is bored, what a surprise. One mouse click from the Buffalo Juniors Website and a plethora of things to do can be found. I am sure there are myriad free brochures available at the hotel is rests his sorry ass in. 5 minutes on the internet would uncover enough to keep him entertained. Perhaps he should travel with his xbox in the future.

    Maybe Hoyt and all the other whiners would be happy if the Sabres hadn’t brought the hockey tournament to town.

    • Alan Bedenko December 28, 2010 at 10:11 am #

      One mouse click from the Buffalo Juniors Website and a plethora of things to do can be found

      Not really. Not for a car-less teenage player with a free day.

  10. oh puhleeze December 28, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Actually, teenagers would probably love a tour of the waterfront, lots of places to smoke pot which as we all know is their second most popular activity.

  11. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I’m not one of those who like to argue out of boredom or argue just to argue. That’s pointless.

    Either downtown Buffalo is a ghost town for teens, or its not. The answer is obvious and doesn’t merit debate. Please, spare me the Chamber of Commerce hype.

  12. Peter-usrt December 28, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Kid might be right, but the players concerns in regards to tourism is the least of issues for the CVB/Sabres. The players are here to win a gold medal for their country, the fans who watch the games are the ones that need to be catered to and from what I see that is being taken care of quite well.

  13. pirate's code December 28, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Downtown is a ghost town for teens? No question. But what were the Sabres supposed to do about that? Move the arena to Elmwood Village? Set up a rink on Hoyt Lake? Busing these kids to the Galleria wouldn’t make downtown any less a ghost town. Hoyt apparently directed some or most of his ire at the Sabres. That probably is misplaced. They brought a world-class tournament to town and by most measures appear to running that tournament quite well. They didn’t spring this on the community last week — it’s been known this event was coming a long, long time ago.

    USA Hockey (the national amateur organizing group) caters to every whim of its select players. They have a staff of a dozen or more adults traveling with the 22 players. Who knows how many parents of these young men also made the trip. The fact that this kid couldn’t find something to do, or someone to guide/drive him, should be greeted with a shrug.

  14. oh puhleeze December 28, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Hertel ave was on the ball. They handed out fliers and had a shuttle that picked people up and brought them to Hertel eating establishments. Still not much for teenagers to do, but who cares?

  15. Mike In WNY December 28, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Oh really! I spent 6 weeks in 6 countries in Europe when I was 16. The majority of my time was spent on architectural splendor and looking forward to different types of food in the restaurants. And, I relied on my feet or public transportation for the bulk of my forays.

    • Alan Bedenko December 28, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      They’re not in Paris to look at the Louvre.

      They’re not in London to see the Queen.

      They’re not in Madrid to see the Prado.

      They’re in Buffalo to play hockey. Kid wanted something to do on his day off.

  16. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    This “so what” attitude is the problem. It’s why Buffalo is where it is today. When tourists come to town, you cater to them, to their every whim. You treat them as family. You make it easy for them to shop, to eat, to visit places of interest. Every thing they do, everyplace they go should be as wonderful as you can make it. That’s why they call it the ‘hospitality” industry. Making people feel at home is an art. So many dunderheads don’t understand nutin bout treaten people right. Dey coun’t care less.

    It’s not about hockey. It’s about making every tourist’s visit an extraordinary, memorable experience that they rave about. And for those who don’t understand that, I don’t what to tell you, except… remove head from sphincter.

  17. Hapklein December 28, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Gee I thought the library would have waiting lines of these students eager to stay with their homework and to study the culture of the area they are in.
    Heck for a healthy active teen a stroll down Elmwood Avenue to the Historical society and art galleries or down Main Street to Best and the Science Museum is just a lark.
    Didn’t anybody consider some architectural tours. Just short stints on the Subways can get them to the Darwin Martin House.
    But something tells me the developers of this tourney are jocks and jocks don’t do culture.
    Sam is on the nose as usual. The ball was dropped by narrow interest and ignorance of possibilities. 

  18. Peter-usrt December 28, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Something tells me that the players are jocks too, and therefore don’t do culture. So what’s your point?

  19. paul December 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    What kind of 17 year old has a twitter account? Get a taxi and go to a mall if thats what you want

  20. Chris Charvella December 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Bobby mentioned the Chamber of Commerce jokingly, but really, where are they in all of this? They should have representatives camped out at every hotel these kids and their families are staying at. The reps should be handing out brochures labeled: ‘Shit You Absolutely Have To Do While You’re In Buffalo.’

    They should have spent the last year selling space in a coupon book to businesses specifically for that purpose.

    Then, somebody, the Chamber, the Sabres, or anybody else should have thought of running a shuttle service to a few locations throughout the city. Hertel? Yes. Elmwood? Absolutely. The mall? Shit yeah, because if I was a 17 year-old Finnish hockey player on my day off I’d like nothing more than to go to the mall, find some girls and say, “Hey, I’m playing in the World Junior Hockey Championship, wanna see my hotel room? The shuttle leaves in ten minutes.”

  21. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Here’s one idea. Put a big sandwich board in the lobby of the hotels offering the players (and their contingents) a free, regular shuttle bus ride to the Galleria Mall, courtesy of the NFTA.. Tell them there is plenty to see, eat and drink and shop or just hang out. Arrange with the movie theaters for 1/2 price movie tickets or passes. Give the players Sharpie pens to sign autographs or set up autograph tables. Ask them to wear their team colors. Advertise their coming Thousands of teen girls and youngster with their parents will show up to get the autographs of these young stars from across the world. Increase mall security. It would pack the mall for the duration. The local TV cameras would cover the mall story on every night.

    Everybody would love it. Win-win-win. Hospitality can pay big dividends.

  22. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm #


    Same idea. Yours was a little more direct than mine. lol

  23. Jon Splett December 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    @BobbyCat- I live in Detroit, (Well, Ann Arbor but it’s close enough) and I can say without a doubt that Buffalo is now the biggest hockey town in the United States. The Red Wings are an after thought for pretty much all of Michigan and the sports talk stations are far more concerned with a shitty Lions team, firing Rich Rodriguez and Tigers offseason signings than they are the Wings. Once it gets to be the playoffs, everyone in Detroit will pay attention but compared to Buffalo where a Sabres team with no chance of making the playoffs still dominates conversations around here, it’s not even close. Buffalo loves hockey more than anyone else. Personally I think it stems from the inferiority complex the city has that it latches on to the least popular major American sport in a vain hope it’ll somehow make the place relevant but that’s an entirely different rant.

    As for the city being boring, all I can say is ‘no fucking shit it’s boring’. I came home Wednesday for Christmas and I’m bored to tears, There are two things to do in Buffalo. Eat trashy food (and I say trashy food in the most loving way possible) and get drunk. That’s it. I’ve been to Mighty Taco 3 times, Steakout once and I’ve gotten wings. Now, I have no idea what else to do with myself during the day. It’s why I moved and why I won’t come back. I’m here until Thursday because I’m playing a gig at Broadway Joe’s tomorrow night but if I hadn’t already committed to that, I would have left early.

    The ‘OMG BUFFALO IS AWESOME’ crowd never wants to hear it but this place just doesn’t compare to other cities. I spend a lot of time in Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and those cities feel like actual cities. Buffalo feels like a really large small town. It has it’s charm but that charm has about a 2 day shelf life before the complete lack of anything to do shows itself. I don’t blame the players for bitching about the place. They’re 17 years old and they’re about to play in an international tournament. If I was in that position, I’d be pretty excited to experience a big time international city. Instead they got Buffalo and that’s going to result in some venting on Twitter. The only way to salvage this place for them is a few fake IDs.

  24. Chris Charvella December 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm #


    Direct is what I do. I’m also not so far removed from my teen years that I’ve forgotten what the priorities are 🙂

  25. DJB December 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    I’m not sure that Buffalo is Hockeytown, but I can say without a doubt that Detroit certainly isn’t anymore!

  26. Warrey December 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Sam Hoyt, the ultimate career politician, has been in office for a long long time. He is one of the architects of what downtown is today. He has been part of the problem and not solution. It is typical Sam Hoyt, blame others for his mistakes. Where would he be today if his father hadn’t passed away at an early age? Probably driving bus at the NFTA. Sam, you are a talker and little else. Shut up and do more than kissing ass (and interns) in Albany.

  27. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm #


    I spend a lot of time in Oakland County. Those folks wear a lot of red jersies. They think its HockeytownUSA and I cant disagree.

    Ann Arbor is what Buffalo can be and should be. A university-integrated town. My plan is to sell UB Amherst to somebody like MicroSoft and move it to downtown Buffalo.. Turn every vacant building – lofts, condos,classrooms into UB venues. Then the subway would connect the two campuses. but I digress…….

    The first thing on the road to recovery is to admit that you’re a drunk – or your town is a ghost town, etc. The kid did us a favor for speaking the truth about the Emperor’s fine new clothes.

  28. Brian Castner December 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    @ Alan: Sorry, but I think you connect a lot of dots that are pretty far off.

    1) Sam Hoyt’s criticism was about shaming Golisano on his way out of town (Sabres being on the auction block, as it is). The content of his criticism was that there wasn’t enough CVB/Business/NFTA cooperation. But as Rudybob points out, there actually was a lot of prep done there, and there are special bus lines just like you asked for. I’m sorry you didn’t know about them before, but like you say, you don’t follow sports (or this prep much). Andy Kulyk has been writing/tweeting about all the prep, and downtown seems as ready as it can be.

    2) The 17 year old said what everybody knows – downtown is a ghost town. But do you think Sam Hoyt really meant: “Wow, that’s a giant hole in the ground near HSBC – we better put up some shit fast!” Your post implies that. In my more conspiratorial moments, I swear half of the Canalside criticism and delay tactics have been about making the World Juniors (Larry Quinn’s baby) look bad. The Sabres can do nothing about downtown being better for teenagers, and so this 17 year old being bummed and Hoyt have nothing to do with eachotther.

    3) There is a massive bubble hockey tournament/hockey card show/meet hockey hall of famers going on at the convention center right now across the street from the Hyatt. That should be hockey junior porn. Etem didn’t want to go, then whatever – that’s as good of an underage event as you are going to get in downtown now.

    • Alan Bedenko December 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm #


      1. The bus lines travel up Elmwood and up Franklin. Rudybob also points out that “Unfortunately they don’t link to this info @ – or maybe I just can’t find the link. When I rode the Elmwood shuttle to the US/Finland game on Sunday me & my friend were the only ones on the bus.” It goes to the heart of the matter – a lack of coordinated effort and information, and Hoyt’s “silo” criticism.

      2. Hoyt’s critique from what I read had nothing to do with Canal Side and everything to do with a lack of coordinated organization between the CVB and the Sabres. As with everything else in this city, no two fiefdoms can easily work together.

      3. Bubble hockey tournaments at the convention center are going on during evening hours only. There still isn’t shit to do in the daytime, and there’s no easy way for a teenager to get out to the only reasonably good mall in the area without a car or a long bus trip. A first time visitor from Medicine Hat would probably assume that there was something to do at downtown’s own Main Place Mall, and be doubly appalled.

      4. Hospitality shouldn’t amount to, “fuck you, kid. Tough shit you didn’t look into which bus to use, tough shit you don’t wanna go to the bubble hockey thing at 5, tough shit you can’t drink, tough shit it’s a PITA to get to the Galleria (not to mention Boulevard or McKinley). Go look at some art, architecture, or play some arcade games”.

      5. I like that we all just settle for mediocrity and poor planning and then blame the kid as if his expectations were somehow unreasonable.

  29. Peter A Reese December 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    I have been telling you all for years that we need to establish a museum which showcases our strong points: poor people, old people and world class bad leadership. Kids would really dig the way that our “businesspersons” and politicians have screwed up WNY. Who doesn’t enjoy galking at the hopeless poor and old geezers? And we have so much to display from the past 100 years that it would be bigger than the Louvre. Visitors would have to stay over past the tournament to see it all.

  30. oh puhleeze December 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Some how, I think the big outing to the Galleria Mall would still have this kid complaining about nothing to do. Its the samr problem across the us and canda, there really isn’t a whole lot for teenagers to do. Anyone that thinks its better in Detroit needs their head examined

  31. Eric Saldanha December 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m just wondering about the pain and anguish Mike in WNY must have endured having to take all that awful socialist public transportation in Europe. I can imagine him strap-hanging on the Metro, cursing the oppressive money grab just to provide him a safe, efficient ride.

  32. Brian Castner December 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    @ Alan: Your #2 is exactly the point. Hoyt says the CVB didn’t work well enough with the Sabres (and one bus with few people is hardly evidence one way or another as to whether the added buses work or not), and the kid complains downtown sucks. What could the CVB or Sabres have done to fix that problem? Provide more buses to the suburbs? The kid is on the national Junior team – I hardly think he lacks for rides.

  33. Brian Castner December 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Oh, one more thing: “5. I like that we all just settle for mediocrity and poor planning and then blame the kid as if his expectations were somehow unreasonable.”

    You and Sam Hoyt haven’t convinced me this was poorly planned, and Etem’s dislike of downtown is reasonable, but I blame a decade of anti-Canalside fervor for that, not the Sabres.

  34. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Charvella got it right. What the tourists want to do is shop and get a belly full of beer. What the young players really want to do is party and booze and get laid, preferably on Chip. St. Without fake proof they resort to Plan B – hang out at the mall and pickup some chicks. Is there is anybody at the Chamber or the Visitors Bureau who remembers how to do any of that? Wait, of course they do. When the older conventioneers hit town, they want the same things (plus the Canadian Ballet) although they have to pay for it – and watch out for the vice squad.

  35. jhorn December 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I’m with mikeinwny on this one. Ferry kids to the galleria so they can do a narcotized circling of the same abysmally mediocre stores and food courts you can find anywhere in north america and maybe even in europe? Take them on a tour of downtown, allentown, elmwood village, the franklin-linwood corridor, etc. (and make it a WALKING tour as hapklein suggested. Not only will they see more, it might dissipate some of that 17-year-old boredom). THEN take them on a tour of the east side so they can see what happens to a city when it neglects half of itself. Will they appreciate it? Enjoy themselves? Learn anything?- who knows, they’re teenagers. But at least they’ll get a taste of what’s unique to Buffalo.

  36. Bills Fan December 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    The bubble hockey tournament were actually played during daytime hours – just the opposite of what you said. This is one of those topics where you actually need to have been downtown to see whether or not the city was prepared.  Having been down there yesterday and today – and having been to the NCAA basketball events downtown – let me say that this has been much better than those previous efforts.  But let’s not the facts get in the way of turning some 17 year old punk’s tweet into a political issue.  

    Also, any right minded 17 year old would be bored in virtually every downtown in every American city.  Downtowns are dead after 5pm and during the slowest work weeks of the year.  Whether it’s Pitt, Albany, LA or Chicago, “downtown” rightly defined as the financial/business district in each city always sucks after hours.  

  37. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    These are very dedicated, hard working, young world class athletes. Rather than being told what to do, maybe they should do what they want with their time off. If they like idea of cruising the Mall, here’s a shuttle bus. Have fun.

  38. Bills Fan December 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    I don’t know what other points you made. You said there wasn’t a dedicated bus line for players and attendees.  There is. You said the convention center activities weren’t available during the day. They are. 

    Your remaining point – and Etam’s point – is that there isn’t anything to do in downtown Buffalo if you’re not old enough to drink.  That is indisputable but also says very little about anything given it’s true of almost every downtown in America. 

  39. Bills Fan December 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Oh, and the best criticism that can be directed at this operation is the terrible website meant to showcase all the relevant info for the event. looks like it was designed 15 years ago. By someone who didn’t know how to design websites then.  

  40. Alan Bedenko December 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    The bus circuit is incomplete and inadequate.  The hospitality effort is fractured, rather than coordinated.  The FanFest is family-friendly, not teen friendly, and most other cities in America don’t really give a crap what some 17 year old kid says, regardless of the hopping nightlife downtown, or lack thereof.

    Part of the planning that goes into this has to do with people imposing their notions of what people should see, rather than accommodating what they want to do.  I hardly think this kid wanted to play bubble hockey or get a tour of the east side.  But I’ve been to plenty of downtowns that aren’t ghostly and have stuff to do and people in them during business hours. 

  41. Bills Fan December 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    First you claimed there was no bus circuit. Then people who actually knew about the event corrected you and now the claim is the bus circuit is incomplete and inadequate. And now the hospitality effort is fractured.  And FanFest is only family-friendly, not teen-friendly.  

    Really, you’re reaching to try to make a point that you’re better than the people running the event and you only wish they were more competent and if they were, well, then something. But really, have you been to this event? Or past sports events downtown like the NCAA tourney?  I kinda doubt it so instead you’re going to cruise around some more websites in search of more data points you can try to throw in here to prove your “point.”  

    Really, the kid is a 17 year old hockey player. What do you think he does on his down time? I have some guesses – try to get laid, play video games, hang out at malls and movie theaters with friends, text friends and wait for them to text back, drink and maybe smoke dope.  We can’t really build a bus route plan that facilitates his needs.  

    Also, I agree with McGahee when he left Buffalo and said the nightlife is pathetic.  He’s right. The guy is in to dance clubs and similar nonsense and obviously there are no happening night clubs in Buffalo.  So he was bored. Okay, I get that.  But a 17 year old hockey player?  What exactly are we trying to facilitate here?  

    • Alan Bedenko December 29, 2010 at 6:17 am #

      I’m not trying to prove that I’m anything. I’m trying to explain that there was a clear warning that the event wasn’t properly coordinated, and sure enough it isn’t. You yourself point out that the website looks horrible. I also noticed that the Juniors website has no links to the NFTA information, or the Fanfest information. It’s fractured and inadequately organized. Last night, people found themselves paying $30 – $40 for parking if they had Canadian plates. Welcome to Buffalo! We’ll bore you then gouge you.

  42. Eisenbart December 28, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    I agree with Bills Fan. What is he, or anyone for that matter, expecting downtown to be like in a work week between Christmas and New Years? Manhattan? Every year it’s always dead, in general not just downtown. Always. I noticed it last two years and again last night on my way home from work. I was just in Pittsburgh and it was also dreadfully dead every where. Do I go on to assume Pittsburgh is an awful place? No because I know there is more to it than “oh I went to Pittsburgh it sucks!!!!!” all over every blog, forum, and conversation I have.

    Etam made a mistake in tweeting what he said. It’s just plain rude even if half true. He’s young and learned a few lessons. Trash talking your host is just lacking manners and will get you a lot of attention(good and bad). And if he’s going to be spending time in Syracuse due to his draft, that shares similar attributes to Buffalo you better be more careful in the future.

    Why over analyze this?

  43. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    It’s true that over analyzing anything is a mistake, but that’s not the case here. It’s the responsibility of the event sponsors and/or the Visitors Bureau to find interesting venues for teen athletes and make it easy for them to get there. Ok, so downtown is a ghost town for kids that age, granted. Then arrange shuttle buses to the Walden Galleria. That ain’t splitting the atom – it’s just wise hospitality.

  44. Becky December 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Apparently I’m the only one who thought maybe the kid should have checked out the other teams playing at the Arena.  If that bores him, maybe he needs to take up another sport.

    Just another excuse to trash whatever happens to be the favorite target of the moment.

    The media needs to find different stories to cover while the kid learned a valuable lesson in PR. Maybe he’ll even pick up some self-initiative along the way. 

  45. BobbyCat December 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    Why “Becky”, you sound hard as nails. Where’s that old maternal instinct?

  46. Becky December 29, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    My maternal instinct is just fine, thank you. I’m a bit put off by the suggestions that all a young athlete wants to do is drink, smoke pot, pick up girls, and shop…and with what money?  The fans seem to have been able get around, and they are where the disposable income is at.

    The trashing Buffalo comment was intended for some comments here, not a kid currently living in Medicine Hat.

    I also thought “adults” booing the kid at the game was way out of line, but then again, maybe that’s just my maternal instinct kicking in.

    Meanwhile, what’s with the quotes around my name? Woman have ceased commenting here and some other blogs because we don’t feel welcome, don’t like the general tone, or are trivialized, not because we’re worried about some cyber-stalker (delayed comment on a Chris Smith post on his blog from a while back).

  47. Frank Brutus December 29, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    Peter Reese for Mayor!

  48. Leo Wilson December 29, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    I’m not accustomed to agreeing with some peoples’ posts, but BobbyCat hit the nail squarely in just about every post. Sometimes, unembellished talk is what needs to be heard. I wish this article and its commentary were broadcast where everyone could hear it, but I’m pretty sure Bobby would rather hand-pack Fox News’ parachute than be seen on their station 🙂
    I don’t particularly like Hoyt, but from what I’ve seen, he’s about the only guy with the gnads to (occasionally) speak the truth. On the other hand, kids are kids. I’ve never met one who wasn’t complaining about boredom most of the time.

  49. BobbyCat December 29, 2010 at 9:23 am #


    Alan Bedanko began this blog agreeing with Sam Hoyt concern that the Visitor’s Bureau wasn’t coordinating with the Sabres. The kid’s ‘ghost town’ tweet seemed to confirm that the young players didn’t know where to go or what to do or how to get there. Of course downtown is a ghost town but why can’t we shuttle these players to a mall? Why is there no mechanism to prevent Mr. Croce from gouging Canadians $50 to park? Sam Hoyt’s concerns were well founded.

    I have made the point before that women don’t seem welcome in these blogs for the reasons you cited. I sympathize. Frankly, your comments seemed hard edged and I suspected that you were a man. You wouldn’t be the first man signing as a woman. But after reading your comment: “I’m a bit put off by the suggestions that all a young athlete wants to do is drink, smoke pot, pick up girls…” I know that you are a woman. No man would say that. Men know what young guys want to do.

    Back to the subject: All involved will declare this event a huge success, of course.. But IMHO, the Visitors Bureau dropped the ball. A simple swindle like gouging $50 to park will spread like wildfire through Ontario. Our Canadian cousins will remember that, and maybe next time they will stay home. Downtown Buffalo is a ghost town and so is Niagara Falls (NY) You can’t keep luring people here with false pretenses and expect them to come back.

  50. BobbyCat December 29, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Appear on Fox/Pravda?? Thanks Leo, but I’d prefer a sharp stick in the eye. 🙂

  51. Leo Wilson December 29, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    One thing that struck me about this – just exactly who was borish enough to violate this player’s status as a minor’s to make his tweet a media event? If twitter amounts to journalism these days, shouldn’t there be some limitation on granting weight to the young and stupid?

  52. Bills Fan December 29, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Bobbycat – you must have some sort of brain defect.  There are buses from the Arena to virtually everywhere in WNY including the Galleria mall.  

    This entire thread is like a bunch of movie reviewers who have never seen the movie. Or restaurant critics who never ate at the restaurant.  None of you guys have gone to the event but instead are basing your criticism on accepting a 17 year old’s tweet as gospel.  It’s really amazing. Also, pundit, the world juniors site does link to the NFTA site and information so you’ve gotten that bit wrong as well.  

    As for the ‘gouging’ on parking fees, I hope everyone saw WGRZ’s classic piece on that issue last night.  They interviewed the 2 people who paid the $50 price (which was in place for about 20 minutes) and both were like “Hey we don’t care we just want to go see the game.”  It was almost tragic as the redcoat so badly wanted to create news per usual but they just couldn’t get any of the alleged victims of this gouging to care.  But you guys do so that will make them feel better. 

  53. BobbyCat December 29, 2010 at 10:43 am #


    Gee, there is bus service in Buffalo, you say? No kidding?
    Gouging for parking is not a problem? Ok, if you say so.
    I’m glad to hear that everything is just great. I should have called you to find out. You are so smart and the rest of us are just fools. Gee, I wish I was as smart as you. Will the Dow break 11,000 in 2011? (breathlessly awaiting your answer)

  54. mike December 29, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    bobbycat, why the dig at Niagara Falls? after 58 comments did you run out of shit to bitch about? If he was staying in a hotel downtown here and was bored it only cost 25 cents to walk across the bridge.

  55. Bills Fan December 29, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Bobbycat – the perfect response. As wrong as you were about an event you’ve never been to, you ask whether the Dow will break 11,000 in 2011.  The Dow is at 11,600 right now. Christ, is there anything you can get right? 

  56. Leo Wilson December 29, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    I think following tweets around, fishing for news, is the journalist’s equivalent of ambulance chasing – and lazy, too; they needn’t even get off their fat asses. Doing that with the tweets of a minor is just wrong.

    How ’bout one of you noble writers take that idea on?

  57. lulu December 29, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Sam’s “warning” was to little and way too late to positively effect the planning effort. While I do usually support and agree with him, this appeared childish and unnecessary at the late hour his concerns were voiced. Planning has been underway for well over a year and we can always learn from each event where we are able to bring lots of out of towners here. Better get going for the Historic Preservation show stat!

    Also, the players and coaches are here to work and will likely come back only to work. The fans are the ones we need to

  58. BobbyCat December 29, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    I usually don’t get lured into these high school pissing contests. Sorry about that. I quit. You win. You’re the ad hominem champion, the toughest name-caller on the block. There are chat rooms galore filled with kids waiting to flame each other. Good luck to ya, Champ.

  59. lulu December 29, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    focus on with hospitality efforts.

  60. Bills Fan December 29, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I didn’t call you any names.  And the brain defect comment was an ad hominem attack, it was a diagnosis.  

    I don’t comment much because I don’t have an informed opinion on every topic.  You, on the other hand, comment on everything whether you have any information or not.  I’ve been to this event and to others and I can tell you that this was better handled than previous efforts.  Was it perfect? Of course not but who does anything perfectly?  

    Trust me, sometimes not saying anything when you don’t know what you’re talking about can feel good. Try it. 

  61. JohnnyWalker December 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Good Grief! Seventeen year old shatters Buffalo’s self esteem. To top it all off, the petty and shameless local media drags the kid out to make a public retraction on his tweet. Man up. He told the truth. Downtown Buffalo is desolate. Did what he say come as a shock? WTF! was the Buffalo KGB monitoring the players’ tweets.

  62. BobbyCat December 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm #


    You’re right. What the kid said was unforgivable: He told the truth – that Emperor was wearing no clothes. Of course we all know that downtown Buffalo is a ghost town and desolate but it’s not kosher to admit that in the media. So they made the poor kid apologize for telling the truth, because our feeling might be hurt. In fact, it’s not acceptable to criticize anyone about anything. Everyone is doing a great job, even if they’re not. But from time to time, somebody blurts out the truth, and hurts our feelings.

    I wonder how many tourists land in Niagara Falls, NY and are aghast at the difference between the NY side of the Falls and Canada’s. I live far from the Falls but as a New Yorker I’m embarrassed by it. And sure, I’m embarrassed by the desolation of downtown Buffalo, too. And I’m embarrassed by the candidacy of Carl Paladino, and the Thruway snow debacle, and a filthy City Hall and on and on. Can’t we do anything right? What are we proud of? The Chamber of Commerce hype and the media hype is all happy talk. It’s not reality. If you want to change things we need to shine a spotlight on what is wrong, not hide it, not whistle past the fucking graveyard. If you want to stop the parking lot gouging, you need all three TV stations doing stand-ups and asking the tough questions. Put the man’s face on the front page of the newspaper. Embarrass him because he deserves to be embarrassed.

    My theory is that the road to recovery starts with getting out of denial and admitting there is a problem. (I never had any 12-step problem, BTW, but the rules are sound) We need to cut the BS and fix the city. Step one: tell the truth, even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts.

  63. eliz. December 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Doesn’t this kid have homework?

  64. pirate's code December 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    jeesus, bobbycat, that’s a record for you, I think. 68 total posts before you got around to Paladino.

  65. Hank December 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Goodness Gracious! Been a long time since one of Alan’s posts had this many comments on a non Ron Paul subject.

    It’s just not the kids, WNY’ers!!!! After the national convention of the Corvair Society of America, an informal poll was taken on the conditions in the Adam’s Mark, and surrounding area. 40% of convention goers polled said the best thing about the city of Buffalo was seeing it in their rear view mirror as they got the hell out of town. OTOH, the Packard Club had their convention at the Holiday Inn Grand Island, and all but a few feedback comments were positive. They had a bus trip into buffalo for the Anchor Bar, Chippewa St Clubs and Allentown/Elmwood strip, then they got everyone back on the Island or in Niagara Falls.

    Sam Hoyt reminds me of John Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community—standing in the ashes of his life’s work and proclaiming victory.

  66. Starbuck December 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    17 17 17… why do so many of you keep saying he’s 17? A quick Google shows Etem was born in June ’92, so he’s 18 now and in June he’ll turn 19. He could go to those Chippewa St bars that Commissioner Derenda wanted to stop letting 18 y.o.’s in. Problem solved.

  67. Gabe December 30, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    Summary of this inane post and inane comments:

    The CVB fucked up because godly Canadians have to pay big monies to park their cars in a downtown where theres a limited amount of physical space to stash large vehicles and the fact there’s no quick way to shuttle 18 year old hockey players to a suburban mall that has the same assortment of boring chain stores that can be found anywhere in North America so they can shop for stupid shit and hit on generic suburban jailbait. Check please….

  68. Gabe December 30, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    …And oh yeah we have a boring desolate downtown just like 90% of other North American downtowns.

    • Alan Bedenko December 30, 2010 at 7:00 am #

      Yes, but many other North American downtowns would have avoided “the CVB fuck[ing] up”, not because of the parking, but because the coordination between the tournament organizers, the CVB, the NFTA, and other providers was fragmented and inadequate. If you’re going to host a big event, it helps to do it well so that visitors are entertained and impressed. Shrugging off visitors’ concerns as fuck-you-no-big-deal is hardly the mission of a functioning hospitality infrastructure.

      Shame the 17 year old jocks didn’t check out the Albright Knox, but like I said, we shouldn’t be dictating what they see and do, but accommodating what they want to see and do.

  69. Brian Castner December 30, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Alan, I really hate to continue this thread which is verging further and further from reality, but what single shred of evidence do you have that visitors are not entertained, impressed, or planning was fragmented and inadequate? Hoyt’s comment? Etem’s tweet that downtown is desolate? A report of two parking lots charging $50? That is some impressive truthiness if that’s all you got.

    In opposition, to support the case that things are infinitely better than you contend, I would present all of Andy Kulyk’s reporting (found on Artvoice and this site) depicting huge crowds, happy patrons and a festive atmosphere – you know, reporting from the arena and part of town where the games are. I went to a jam packed Albright-Knox yesterday, full of people of all ages (even 18 year olds) to see the Sabres exhibit and an awesome NHL 360 video. They even timed it with Beyond/In, so out of town patrons are drawn in for the Sabres exhibit (and the Stanley Cup for 3 days next week) and then get to see local WNY artists. Note also the convention center full of stuff, notes from restaurant owners who hired hundreds and predicted their best week ever, and a web site with links to border, bus, parking and hotel info. Seriously, how is this even a discussion? This is all made more farcical by the fact that 1) you don’t like sports or such events, and 2) YOU are the one complaining we self immolate so we can’t have nice things.

  70. BobbyCat December 30, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I’m not a hockey fan but I root for the City. I had hoped the event would be a huge success. Various stories in today’s NEWS suggest otherwise. Vendors at the Convention Center said the turn-out was low; Restaurants near the arena are doing very well but other restaurants not as predicted. No spin-off on Chippewa Street even though the Hotels are packed. Nobody seems to know why the spin-off business didn’t materialize. I just learned via Brian’s comment that the Albright-Knox is featuring a hockey exhibit, but why had I not heard this elsewhere and often??

    I would like to see the visitor’s packet that visitors received showing them where to eat, play, visit, how to get there, city maps, discount coupons, etc etc. That might tell the story. Were the visitors impressed? Were they wowed,disappointed, scared?
    The quotes in the BufNews were local business people asking why it didn’t happen. Let’s hope the Visitor’s Bureau is doing some exit-polling and not just guessing. For those saying it’s not a big deal, it is a big deal. Attention to details often make the difference between winning and losing- something that every coach knows. I hope the Visitors Bureau knows it too.

  71. Brad December 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    I agree with Brian. Just because the bars aren’t packed doesn’t mean people couldn’t find them. Maybe they just don’t want to go out drinking. Maybe they did their drinking at the arena or the tent outside of the arena. Maybe people just aren’t coming to the tournament for an extended stay. Obviously, none of the players are going to the bars. The coaches probably aren’t either. Many of the Canadian fans are commuting. But, they’re here. Isn’t that the point? It appears (to me – a huge hockey fan and a city resident) the Buffalo News is deliberately trying to spin this event in a negative light. My guess is that there are political implications regarding the success or failure of this event, and the News supports whatever political faction stands to gain from this even not being labeled a success. The News could have gone out looking for fans who are enjoying themselves. Instead, they are looking for people who paid $50 for parking, who don’t like it here, who aren’t making as much money as they thought (even though they’re still making money), etc.

    @BobbyCat – you are assuming that this event is not going well. Nobody is disputing the fact that details matter. We are disputing the fact that the details were negligently handled. If you didn’t realize the Albright-Knox has a hockey exhibit, that’s your fault. It’s displayed prominently on their website. There is a website called buffaloworldjuniors [dot] com that has links to all the relevant information you could possibly want in order to find things to do here during your stay. I honestly can’t think of a better way to showcase the “things to do” in Buffalo during the “World Junior Championships” than create a website called “buffalo world juniors” with links to local websites. There is even a blog for the event with “things to do” posts. Google the name of the event you are going to, “world juniors” – without the word Buffalo even – and “buffaloworldjuniors” is one of the first results. Not only that, but the website has been active for about a year. This event started the day after Christmas. How many people are coming here for the entire thing? My guess is not many – only players, coaches, staff, and some families of players/coaches/staff. However, I would expect to see more and more people staying longer starting this weekend. 1) It’s a weekend; 2) It’s closer to the medal rounds. The medal games will be played Wednesday. Again, you are more likely to get people to hang around on the weekend, and if I’m coming in from out of town to watch the tournament with my buddies, I’m more likely to come for the weekend and stay for the medal rounds if I have tickets. Fans are not coming to stay for 2 full weeks starting the day after Christmas. So, let’s wait until this tournament is over before we start calling it a failure.

  72. Bills Fan December 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    Shouldn’t the guys running the site that constantly tells everyone else how bad they are at their jobs – whether it’s the people running local governments or running this hockey event – be able to keep their own website up with a greater degree of reliability?  

  73. Bbill January 1, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Here’s what Etem ought to do:

    Grab the nearest reporter or two, get in front of a camera, and make with the mea culpa: “After having been here a week, I find I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a terrific town and the people are great.” Collectively we’ll say Awwww. Then he should add “If, God willing, my NHL career were to bring me here as a member of the Sabres someday, I’d be a happy player.” Mayor Quimby would immediately scramble to Get This Kid The Key To The City! Stat!

    Damage control accomplished, and only then after the tournament ends will it dawn on us that some kid’s twitter-tweet had caused us all (adults mostly) to react with a chorus of skreeeee! and maybe (maybe) nudge us as a community in the direction of some solutions. Maybe.

    be able to keep their own website up with a greater degree of reliability?

    LOL. Zing! Well played.

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