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The “BFLOExperience” Gets Real

BFLOExperience is made up of Buffalo’s Music Hall of Fame, Sports Hall of Fame, and Broadcasters Hall of Fame. All of these “halls” are currently looking for homes under one roof. Apart, they don’t stand much of a chance of finding a significant home, but together they share an energy and excitement one can not dismiss.

Truth be told, until yesterday I was not sure if I believed that the three museums had a shot at finding a home, because, for the most part, museums can be tough to sustain financially. It was Therese Forton-Barnes, Vice President of BLOExperience and past President of Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, who convinced me to attend a meeting at Hadley Exhibits, to learn more about the three disparate experiential entities, and how they came together to form one powerhouse vision.

After Forton-Barnes told me that a dynamic committee had formed, and Hadley Exhibits was also behind the energized effort, I knew that the BFLOExperience team had stepped up its game. It was Hadley Exhibits’ owner Ted Johnson who helped to tie it all together for me. He showed me just how well all three concepts could be neatly and succinctly woven together. Until that moment, I never imagined the potential of the combined draw as “BFLOExperience”. “There’s a big sports and broadcasting tie,” Johnson explained to me, which is readily apparent. “Then, there’s a natural flow between broadcasting and music.” Johnson has been busy determining the best way to lay out “the experience or play zone”, which is a tall order considering that a home has not yet been identified.

Yes, there appears to be a natural flow between the three entities. It wasn’t until Ted began to talk about the interactive elements of the “experience” that something “clicked” for me. You see, a visitor to this unique hybrid destination would not have to be from Buffalo to enjoy the interactive offerings. For example, any music lover would have fun playing around in the sound studio, mixing sounds and music, while a band is recording an album in an adjoining sound studio, for all to see and hear.

A music element of this nature is something that one might expect to find at the Music Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In the room next door, someone might be “playing broadcaster”, calling the shots for a big game being played anywhere in the world. Someone else would be in command of a simulated remote broadcasting truck similar to the high-tech transmission mobiles that are parked outside of arenas and stadiums. For visitors, there would be times when they wouldn’t even know that they were transitioning between one experience to another – the flow would be fairly seamless.

The most important aspect of these three “halls of fame” is that they already exist. For years, curators have been working diligently, collecting, caring for, compiling, organizing, storing, and purchasing additional memorabilia and components, to ensure that Buffalo’s history, pertaining to the three overlapping realms, is intact and preserved for future generations. The “Buffalo” element will tie the three “halls” together, in a way that will keep the locals coming back for more, especially when additional components are added, such as a café/restaurant, dynamic kids’ activities, three distinct theaters, etc. Altogether, one visit to the BFLOExperience would be a four or five hour stay, according to Johnson.

For the first time since envisioning the BFLOExperience, things are about to get real. In order to bring the concept to reality, the team has retained the services of a couple of heavy hitters in the multimedia entertainment field. Diana Cihak President of Upper Edge Consulting, has been brought on board as a grant writer. According to Cihak, “When is comes to sports, music, or broadcasting – there’s not a person who lives, or has lived, in Buffalo that has not been touched by one of the three concepts. I’m not a big sports fan, so typically I would not go to a sports museum. But this is so much more than that – there’s something here for my entire family. Personally, I would spend most of my time in the broadcasting area.”

Bryan Wittman, Principal at Dry Creek Group, is now taking the lead at developing/preparing the venture for prime time. Wittman held a position at Disney for 30 years – his overarching role was as Corporate Vice President of Global Marketing and Entertainment Events for Disney Theme parks worldwide. When I heard that Wittman had recently moved back to Buffalo, after a 30 year career at Disney, I was immediately struck by the coincidence that Mark Mortenson, the new Executive Director at the Richardson Olmsted Complex, was previously a VP at Disney for 20 years, before moving to Buffalo. The Mouse is in the BFLO house!

Wittman says that he is prepared to take on this new challenge, of helping to bring this 35-40,000 square foot interactive multimedia destination to fruition. That’s certainly a major undertaking, and one that the entire team feels fits with the new burgeoning Buffalo.  “After 30 years as an Executive with the Walt Disney Company, I am so excited to see a project of Disney quality being designed and developed for Buffalo. The Buffalo Experience is going to be a world class attraction that this community will be proud of for generations to come”.

The team is rounded out with Dave Gillen, President of the BFLOExperience Board, who is also the Chairman Emeritus at the Buffalo Broadcasters Association.

As a whole, the team feels that BFLOExperience would be an excellent companion to the new Explore & More Children’s Museum, regardless of where they eventually find a home. The more family friendly destinations in Downtown Buffalo, the better, they say.

You can chalk me down as a believer of BFLOExperience. After thinking about a possible new home for the Buffalo venture, I couldn’t help but picture this as a possible fit for the DL&W Terminal, connected directly to the arena. Talk about a “fan-tastic” experience for sports, music, and broadcast media lovers! Bookend the exhibits with a couple of bars and restaurants, and this could be a captivating new draw for Canalside and The Cobblestone District. All three elements deserve a home, not just because they are directly tied into the Buffalo experience, but because they are directly tied into the human experience.

BFLOExperience recently embarked upon their fundraising initiative. Learn more about the project as it unfolds at

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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