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Bass Pro Calls It Quits, But Where Does canalSIDE Go From Here?


After 9 years of indecision, subsidy-grabbing, and jerking around (and getting jerked around by) the city of Buffalo, Bass Pro has scrapped their plans to build a destination store in Buffalo. While people think about what could be built in its place, nearly everyone agrees the development needs an anchor. It just seems no one can agree on what the anchor should be. I’ve got a few suggestions, myself, as well as some cool entertainment accessories that could pretty much compliment any anchor attraction that is built.

If not Bass Pro, why not Cabela’s? In effect the city would just keep on moving forward with the same plan, but would swap out all the Bass Pro signage and branding with that of Cabela’s. I think it would work. They’re basically the same store, but Cabela’s does have a much larger hunting and camping department. I’ve also been made recently-aware that a Cabela’s is also part sportsman museum, which I find interesting.

A Cabela’s built here would be the first ever in New York, it would be the only store for 220 miles, and it would provide the niche cornerstone for canalSIDE. They wouldn’t suffer the same drawbacks that a Bass Pro would here, as there are also Bass Pro stores in Toronto (which takes away the Canadian patron segment) and Auburn (which takes away the Rochester and Syracuse patron segment). From there, the various shops, restaurants and bars, hotels and apartment buildings, and other attractions would spring up. Such as a waterfront miniature amusement park.

I’m not talking roller coasters of any size or anything extravagant like that, just a few attractions. I’m thinking an enclosed-canopy ferris wheel (like Niagara Falls’ Skywheel) on the water and an enclosed bumper cars and midway that have retractable wall panels. These panels would ascend into ceiling pockets to turn into open-air attractions between late spring and early fall. Of course, this would be in addition to all the previously-planned features and draws of canalSIDE.

I think it could work out, but work is going to have to get cracking. Bass Pro was supposed to be open in time for the World Junior Championships, which starts the day after Christmas this year. There’s no way in hell that anything significant will be ready in time for the worldwide event, but if the Buffalo wants canalSIDE to mimic Vancouver’s Granville Island (as profiled here by the two excellent dudes at Ultimate Sports Road Trip) or Oklahoma City’s Bricktown or the closer-to-home Arena District in Columbus at all, they need to get their sh*t together. Fast. I don’t wanna be looking at a fenced-in crater anymore, and neither does anyone else.

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