Future Of The Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

September 21, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 3:50 PM EDT

By WKBW News

September 21, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 3:50 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW-TV) - There have been a lot of talk lately about building a new convention center in downtown Buffalo. But should we look at a new building or expanding the current one? Local developer Mark Croce says he's proposed a plan to city and county officials that may be beneficial.

"They can expand over the top of Franklin Street create a giant walkway and protection from the elements and actually put a 50-thousand square foot box right over the top of the street and our building and basically have no land acquisition cost," said Croce.

Under his proposal he would sell the air space over the back end of the statler for a buck. That would allow for the expansion of the existing convention center by 50 percent opening the door to a whole new market.

"It brings out of town money that stays in Buffalo," Croce says. "I mean it brings out of town dollars that will be spent on hotel rooms, fuel, dining and lodging and all kinds of trickle down things."

Some large conventions with a huge economic impact have backed out on Buffalo over the years and while a new building is flashy, Croce says it's not cost efficient.

Expanding may cost $25 million compared to hundreds of millions of dollars. At a symposium Friday morning, many in attendance said they would like some nearby establishments.

"If you're an out of towner you do like to have something within a few blocks that you can go to quality restaurants, entertainment," said Tom Jordan who is visiting from Pittsburgh.

"I looked at the hotels in the area close by I think I found all of them to be around 150-180 dollars but Hamburg is only 12 miles away and the hotel was 110," replied Mike Jendral also visiting from Pittsburgh.

Croce says Buffalo can absorb 1,000 more hotel rooms and sees a bright future for the queen city.

"I think Buffalo is on the cusp of being one of the great emerging cities over the next 10 years," Croce stated.