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WBEN NewsRadio 930>Audio & Video on Demand>>Sabres Development Chief Cliff Benson

Sabres Development Chief Cliff Benson

Aug 28, 2014|

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As -- senator among the most heralded downtown development projects in recent memory continues just scraped the downtown skyline. Center officials will open the project for a media tour later this morning we're talking about the biggest change to buffalo skyline in years this morning with. Two in studio -- the first of which is here until 730 cliff Benson sabres chief development officer. Clift thanks for coming in Susan punter and it's an exciting project every time you go by her percent -- you see some big changes. -- is certainly changed the skyline down there and today's. A very special day because this is the second anniversary of our selection to do the project. August morning nine. 2000 and twelve is when we were selected. How did these divisions come about I mean we all remember when that was the Webster block. Well I have to say when we first came up. Error Terry and I stood out in the balcony in front of first Niagara center and more -- to be honest dollar and -- by what wasn't done on some really exceptional waterfront and coming from Pittsburgh I saw the total change of the waterfront down there more equipment to the city and we've looked at each other and said. We have to do something. And that's literally how it started staring -- an empty parking lot. And tell us held a project to begin growing images dream of developing Upton. Give us a little bit of background. Well I'd like to say it was well thought out but. We stood there -- -- if we put up some parking and a couple ice rinks and connect that to the building at least that's what we do hockey and it was almost as simple as that. We took a trip to Washington DC in November of 2011. And the capitals practice. In a facility not anywhere near their building. Actually govern Alexandria ten stories up on our shopping mall but we sought to influence. That could work we can do that. Because we knew we had to replace parking down their own medical center wanna parking so that's really it started as a very simple idea. And as we started to develop the idea. Kim got involved kimbo go and when -- involved it went from being an ordinary project to being a quite extraordinary project. And now here we are today. And that's milestone day and there's so much to be. Celebrating too right. There's there's a lot to be celebrating. Right now for me getting this done as the main jobs so awards celebrate a few more months but. What's gone on over the last two years and and I have to say the commitment. All the folks have been involved. But the workers in particular is just an extraordinary. We're talking were -- Bentsen's chief development officer for the Buffalo Sabres cliff. -- bureau office -- as it can you see the development project I see it every day okay. You know it must be then an absolute pleasure for -- look -- your windows conceal these dreams just reach for this guy. It is. And I -- that this. Where I stood inside with my coffee every day and wondered now these folks were carrying on -- zero degrees and a thirty mile win but. I would have to say -- sometimes when you're there every day it's more about we've got to get this done. And eventually I think will rules and while this news pretty extraordinary. What when is opening. While we're you know we're gonna open everything except the hotel. Middle to end of October so worth close. Ranks with the ranks ram. 716 restaurant although will be open. And less than two months. What are all the components to the project because like you said. Started out you know with a smaller plan and has gotten more grandiose over the years. You know -- original components were were simply parking of which we have four five levels actually up to six. We have to NHL size ice rinks. One that will seat 18100 folks and believe me when you walked in there the first time you see it. The ceiling of this with a wooden rafters would put them. It is it's. It's got to knock it out it's just fantastic can nations will be there there junior sabres will be there. Erie community college will be there and where the smaller community -- The 716. Restaurant. Is going to be extraordinary and that's one of the ones where when Kim got involved all of a sudden. What was just a piece of ground that someone else would develop. Became something that I think is gonna drop people from across the border and everywhere else -- -- and of course we have the Marriott hotel hope. Which -- of 200 rooms twelve stories and again. Because of Kim's hand in it it's going to be something that we don't have -- buffalo right now. -- in studio with us this morning cliff -- sabres chief development officer spree. Focus on -- senator to banner day today it was two years ago today cliff has been telling us that the whole vision really came together. Well two years ago that we got approved division started probably eight months before that but this was one we finally got the go ahead from India. From the city's -- DNA and all those agencies to get started. Now today's a final media tour before the opening. And it's just a big day it's also -- big day for the employees there are our workers the. The folks that we've had on that site have been incredibly committed throughout the whole project everybody knows what when it was like here and in amaze me every day idea. The impact of that and what the workers -- on site so we're gonna have a picnic for over 400 today between 1130 and 1230. Right outside the site. And actually take a picture of all of them to show buffalo the commitment of these folks in coffee from Tim Hortons as well we we have a lot of different things that are coming there but we also have -- hot dogs they're going to be grilled on hot dogs down there couldn't have gotten the betterment. Yeah they're they're terrific but we're just we're so proud of these folks and I and I think you said it be forces and it's a labor of love for them this is pride in your city it's much more than just showing up and building some. Cliff. Let's talk about the legions of people here on the Western New York area who are not. Into sports and that includes amateur sports. What will harbor -- offer for the non sports oriented person what will lead building had to attract. While I would have to say the main thing is the seven point six restaurant which will be quite extraordinary and I'm sure John talk more about that when he gets here. But it's going to be something that people around here have never seen. And it's going to be a fun place to go to whether you like sports and -- going to be a great place to go on a date or take your kids. But I think everything John that's going on now around. The whole canal side area is an attraction we see hundreds and hundreds of people down there every day who literally just come down to set. And look at the water. The fact that all of that has developed around there I think is a big attraction. Much different I can tell you them and we got here four years ago. Hampshire. Economic impact of this project is zero and waited to look at -- and in look at you know that the jobs which came with Dennis and just the whole object. Absolutely I mean this was a huge job creator we estimated that probably over 16100 equivalent jobs were created here. 90%. Of the workers on this job come from 75 mile an hour 75 mile radius. Of buffalo. We agreed to 75%. With the city but we've gotten to 9% so this is all local everybody in this is local. That average salary 60000 a year I mean the economic impact from this thing is significant 500000. Visitors a year we expect to come through that facility in any idea how many people might be employed inside the building when everything is up and running. Well I think the that the numbers probably going to be -- hundred plus I couldn't tell you that John probably knows better but between the hotel the restaurants the ranks in the -- gonna need a lot of folks. And it's gonna create a lot of jobs. You know early on their Maybin some. -- may -- some criticism that this was a parking ramp designed as a project do you think since that time with all this is. Moved on here in the the progress estimated you've silenced those critics. Well I didn't hear much of that that the parking much more was much more designed to help the community we frankly didn't need it we probably needed about half what we have disservice that part. We wanted to help out the medical campus and we wanted to provide parking for people wanna come down to the canal side not just to our bill. But I think of 200 million dollars I think this is a little bit more than parking. There were also fascinated blew out you're earlier remarks about a terrorist Google's way of Kim. And her influence. On this project -- a little bit more about it. Well as it was kind of a fund situation where on Kansas City with the architects and originally period -- to me we're not gonna do the hotel where the restaurant that'll get farmed out we don't do that. And I looked over Kim and I said just understand -- -- be a resonance in on the corner. And she didn't say anything. But not long after that all of a sudden speak -- much different hotel on a much different restaurant and and I have to say her hand in this is change this dramatically. Years buried. Close the coolest their commitment to buffalo talk about that. It's extraordinary when we first came up -- like a -- about the -- actually tried to talk Terry out of buying them sabres. Not because I thought it was a bad idea but -- -- are we gonna go up there and make a commitment to buffalo or we just gonna go up and trying to look important as the owners and it was all about commitment to buffalo they love this place. His business started to appear kims from around here. They wanna do for this city what they've seen done in other cities how often do Terry who grew and his wife Kim come here to take a look at the progress harbors. While they're there in and out all the time you know Kim's got a lot of different things going here now with -- sports and entertainment. Carries an amount. Carries carries different guys though were when we did the Penn State arena he didn't wanna see it until it was finished. It's his term margin don't kiss the bride until the day of the weddings could jinx kind of -- Kim Kim however has been in it many times. Okay cliff good to have you with us this morning thank you coming up we'll -- so powerful which were going to talk with John Caldwell about this project our guest in the -- so far was -- balance of the chief. Development officer for the Buffalo Sabres.

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