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Canalside Crowds Top 1.5 Million, Up From 1 Million in 2015; Nearly 250,000 Visitors to Outer Harbor This Summer

Sep 9, 2016
Press Release

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an estimated 1.5 million visitors spent time at Canalside this summer, up from approximately 1 million in 2015. In addition, the Outer Harbor saw nearly 250,000 visitors this summer. New and expanded food, music, games, exercise, history, relaxation, art and other activities were offered to attract more visitors to Buffalo’s waterfront. 

“Buffalo’s transformed waterfront is an engine of Western New York’s resurgence that continues to fuel tourism, create jobs and increase economic opportunity for the entire region,” said Governor Cuomo. “More and more people are taking advantage of unique outdoor recreational activities and world class entertainment opportunities offered by Canalside and the Outer Harbor and I urge all visitors from across New York and beyond to experience these great Queen City attractions for themselves and see why Buffalo is a city on the move.” 

Visitation, tracked by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, includes attendance at ticketed events, and visitors riding bikes, boats, and walking the waterfront. 

The growth in visitation to Western New York this summer supported a number of new and ongoing businesses, including Canalside boat tours, which had approximately 20,000 customers, and the Queen City Bike Ferry that carried nearly 55,000 people across the river this summer. In addition, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York had more than 14,000 people attend its exercise series; Catholic Health attracted more than 4,000 people to Tuesday Night Flix and the Music and Dance series; and nearly 10,000 visitors created unique works of art at The Art Space, presented by KeyBank.

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia said, “The success at Canalside and the Outer Harbor shows how these two unique locations can play off of one another, giving visitors even more ways to enjoy the waterfront. I applaud the staff at both locations for their hard work during this particularly hot summer season. As the temperatures drop a new season of activities is planned, there is always something to do on Buffalo’s waterfront.”

The Thursday night concert series was another big hit this year. Approximately 133,000 concert goers attended a variety of music events, with Hip Hop artist T-Pain setting a new record by attracting more than 40,000 people to Canalside on August 18.

Canalside Spectra General Manager Ryan Coate said, “History, games, fitness, food, live music, cultural activities and many other categories of events have contributed to the growing success at Canalside. Starting with the Boardwalk Carnival over Memorial Day Weekend then our Maritime Festival featuring Mama Duck and our summer long Free Thursday Concert Series, this year’s events surpassed many expectations. I am proud of the staff and our partners for putting in the efforts to making sure the waterfront is a memorable experience for all. We are shifting gears to our fall and winter events season and keeping the fun and events going.”

The World’s largest Rubber Duck proved to be a big draw, bringing more than 100,000 people to Canalside to get a picture of the Duck in the harbor. In addition, and just a bike ferry ride away, the newly created Outer Harbor Management Group brought 250,000 people to Buffalo’s beautiful Outer Harbor this summer. 

President of Rich Baseball Operations Jonathan A. Dandes said, “We have been blown away by the excitement and participation that our events and programming at the Outer Harbor has created for both Western New Yorkers and our area’s tourists. From our opening weekend when we saw over 20,000 people explore the Outer Harbor through the crowds that have enjoyed the Lake Erie shoreline, the Outer Harbor has developed into a premier waterfront venue. This Fall and Winter, we look forward to giving people even more opportunities to utilize the waterfront. We have also already begun to book events and programming for the 2017 summer season and will remain committed to being a large part of Buffalo’s expanding waterfront.” 

Both Canalside and the Outer Harbor are open to the public year round. This fall visitors have a lot to look forward to, including the follow events at Canalside:

· The Dish - Open weekends until Columbus Day weekend 

· Fall Fest - Saturday, October 8

· Halloween Activities - Throughout October

· The Ice at Canalside - Thanksgiving weekend, weather permitting

Outer Harbor Activities:

· Consumer’s Beverages “The Pointe” - Open through mid-October, weather permitting

· Outer Harbor Kayak and Bike Rentals - Open weekends through October 

· Independent Health Wellness Trail – Year round

· Love in Motion Yoga Classes - Wednesday nights through September

· Life in Color Concert - September 16

· Outer Harbor Fall Festival and Oktoberfest - October 15

Congressman Brian Higgins, who worked to secure the New York Power Authority federal relicensing settlement agreement that is now financing Buffalo’s waterfront development said: “Eight short years ago, people couldn’t find Buffalo’s waterfront, today they can’t wait to get there. Thanks to infrastructure investments made possible through the New York Power Authority Settlement as well as state, federal and local funding, what was once considered a ‘not in my lifetime’ dream for Buffalo is now our reality. Strong visitor numbers as well as substantial private sector investments, demonstrates that this from-the-ground-up model is working but also reminds us of the importance of continued focus and progress as we look to maintain our momentum in the years ahead.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Canalside has transformed our waterfront into a destination that attracts visitors from all over the world, and this summer we saw a record turnout. Whether families enjoyed a stroll on the boardwalk on a Saturday summer night, dined out at Liberty Hound, or made the trek just to have their picture taken with Mama Duck, Canalside was the place to be. Kudos to Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for all their hard work in making this a summer to remember for families across Western New York and beyond.” 

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “We have seen yet another amazing summer at Canalside. The new attractions are bringing record numbers of people to our waterfront. Thousands upon thousands of people have enjoyed everything Canalside has to offer this summer, and this is especially true of the Queen City Bike Ferry. The ferry has continued to increase ridership, and has truly helped to connect our inner and outer harbors. The new landing area on the outer harbor has helped to improve the efficiency of the ferry, and it is a welcome addition for residents and tourists alike. Many events are still happening this fall at Canalside, so I would encourage everyone to visit and experience the new Buffalo waterfront." 

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “This summer highlighted the excitement and energy that surround Canalside and the Outer Harbor and brought attention to the world-class attraction that our waterfront has become. Visitors to our area are stunned by all that we have to offer, and residents are getting reacquainted with a waterfront that is better than it’s ever been. For all visitors and in every season, there is something to experience at the waterfront.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “Our collective plans to grow Buffalo’s economy and create jobs is working and has resulted in significant investment and traffic at Canalside and the Erie Basin Marina. Our downtown waterfront is now one of the most popular destinations in Upstate New York and our focus is on continuing to invest in our waterfront and all of Buffalo.”

Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said, “In just a few short years, Canalside has become an integral part of the Buffalo visitor experience and an essential stop for any tourist. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress along the waterfront and are excited to continue to promote Canalside as a key piece of the Buffalo renaissance story.”