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ECHDC selects Be Our Guest, Ltd. for management of Canalside’s public space

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Board of Directors has selected Be Our Guest, Ltd. (BRG) to operate the public space at Canalside. BRG is a subsidiary of Rich Products Corporation, which means that a local company will be overseeing the operations. The contract is in place for five years, with a two-year optional extension. The deal also means that BRG will be in charge of select areas of the Outer Harbor. 

BRG was chosen for its ability to:

  • Maximize the visitor experience
  • Provide the best financial structure, programmatic approach and quality of offerings for ECHDC to achieve its long-term goal of financial sustainability and programmatic excellence
  • Adapt the management and operation of Canalside as the district evolves

“Be Our Guest is excited for this opportunity to work with Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation at Canalside, the heart of Buffalo’s revitalization,” said team leader Jonathan Dandes, President of Rich Baseball Operations. “Our company has been in the event management business for more than 30 years but this contract is extra special in so many ways — both Western New Yorkers and visitors are drawn to the waterfront and Canalside demonstrates the city’s resurgence.  We are proud to play a part in this progress.”

The BRG team includes Buffalo Place, Inc.; Upsilon Ventures, Inc.; and FARM, LLC. BRG not only has local experience in the realm of operating these sorts of public spaces, it also has a wealth of experience outside of WNY, including operating Bryant Park and Prospect Park in New York City.

“Governor Cuomo promised the people of Buffalo a world-class waterfront and Be Our Guest will deliver by working towards operating a financially sustainable public space while maintaining high quality offerings, improving efficiencies within the operation, as well as lowering ECHDC’s annual financial contribution,” said ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia.  “Be Our Guest has a long history of event management both locally—including at the Outer Harbor—and across the country.  We are excited to work with Jon Dandes and his team to continue to make Canalside the most fun place to be year-round in Western New York.”

Among other tasks and duties, BRG will be responsible for:

  • Event planning and management
  • Facility management
  • Sponsorship sales
  • Marketing research
  • Advertising communications
  • Financial management

“We are very happy to have the BRG team joining us at Canalside to help build on the success and popularity of the site,” said ECHDC President Thomas Dee. “ECHDC thanks Ryan Coate and the entire Spectra team for its tireless effort over the past three years and applauds them for successfully establishing a highly recognizable Canalside brand on both the regional and national level.  The team should take great pride in the growth of Canalside.”

  • All future employees at Canalside will be local hires and, at the height of the operating year, BRG will employ potentially 25 full-time employees.
  • The contract term is five years, April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2022, with an optional two year extension at ECHDC’s discretion.
  • BRG will be paid an annual management fee not to exceed $1.3 million per year.
  • BRG will reinvest a portion of the revenues generated back into Canalside.

According to an announcement made by the ECHDC earlier today, “The funding source for the proposed contract is proceeds payable to ECHDC pursuant to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Relicensing Agreement. ECHDC will continue to provide oversight of Canalside operations and will work closely with BRG on all operations, events, sales and marketing initiatives.”

Lead image: ECHDC

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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