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Letters From Hockey Drive: Buffalo RiverWorks

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Dear Reader:

 

Heading north on the I-190 one can’t help but notice as they near the Buffalo skyline what appears to be a six-pack of Labatt’s Blue Beer on the left-hand side of the road. As one gets closer to the city, the six-pack becomes more distinct.

 

Exiting at the Elm St. exit, one follows the exit, merging on to Swan St. From there you turn right onto Michigan Ave.

 

With the six-pack closer than ever one continues approximately one mile, crossing a bridge along the way. Once across the bridge you come to the end of the street.

 

Turning right you will enter the parking lot of General Mills. Turning left onto Ganson St. finally gets you to your Labatt’s destination.

 

There you discover Buffalo’s newest and best kept secret: Buffalo RiverWorks. It is the city’s newest premier waterfront, boating, sports, music and entertainment destination located along the banks of the Buffalo River.

 

Outside of the Labatt Six Pack, the first thing you see are two outdoor ice rinks. Walking up a set of stairs to the right of the rinks and entering a set of doors, you discover a huge interior setting with tables and chairs and three bars and more open space than one would know what to do with.

 

So who is the person responsible for Buffalo’s newest hot spot for entertainment?

 

“The visionary behind all of this is Earl Ketry,” said Sean Green, the director of athletics at RiverWorks. “He is a downtown visionary.

 

“He’s a very modest individual. He likes to stay behind the scenes.”

 

“He already owns several other businesses in Buffalo. But his greatest vision is Buffalo RiverWorks.”

 

Those other businesses include the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, Lofts On Pearl, Pan-American Grill and Brewery and Hotel @ The Lafayette.

 

“We would like to consider RiverWorks as an adult playground,” stated Green. “There are many, many things going on to entertain the family.

 

“And Riverworks is just not looking for Western New Yorkers to use the facility. We’re looking at attracting people from the surrounding states and from around the country.

 

“We attract children down here that play hockey. But we attract older adults that simply want to come down and remember what Buffalo was like years ago.”

 

It has already been established that RiverWorks attracted an estimated one million people during the 2016 year.

 

“What we’re trying to do here is have an entertainment establishment that is open 52 weeks a year, 365 days a year,” continued Green. “We’re looking for people to come in for four-day weekends.”

 

Besides the obvious with hockey and curling on the outdoor rinks, there is  roller derby, in-line hockey, wrestling, pickle ball, boxing, lacrosse, soccer, jujitsu, and mixed martial arts.

 

There is paddle boards, kayaks and waterbike rentals.

 

“We have different types of concerts that come in,” added Green. “We also finding out that we have repeat customers. People not only come once, but they enjoy it so much that they come back again and again.”

 

You have to remember that where this establishment now stands used to be an industrial building which had become partly demolished over the years.

 

“The building of RiverWorks came in different phases,” remarked Green. “The first phase was the Labatt’s Pond Hockey Tournament which has become our signature event.

 

“The ice rinks came along with that and those are outdoor rinks that are covered and actually have a second level built in. That lead to youth and adult hockey coming in along with curling, which has really hit Buffalo by storm and is very popular.

 

“Phase two was inside the building with the restaurant, bar, roller derby track and the stage for concerts. Phase three will be completed this summer with our outdoor adventure park.

 

“There is going to be an adventure attraction that will include a rock climbing wall, a ropes course and a zipline that will link link some of the huge cement structures at RiverWorks together

 

“Looking to the future, we are looking at purchasing a 60 year-old double-decker bus that will transport people among the properties and possibly other places. We are building an observation deck on top of the concrete bunker that stands next to the RiverWorks facility,

.

“There is even some thought being given to building another hotel with that one being built close to RiverWorks.”

 

There is also a lot of history being displayed throughout the facility.

 

“All the restaurants have a historical theme to them,” said Green. “Plus, there are going to be huge maps and photos displayed throughout the building that tells Buffalo’s story.”

 

And if that’s not enough, people can book weddings, meetings, festivals, trade shows, conventions, corporate events, sports tournaments and dinners, among other events, at Riverworks.

 

“You can have a dinner for two or book a banquet for over a thousand people,” stated Green. “We have 60,000 square feet to work with so space is not a problem.”

 

Plus, there is the RiverWorks’ brewery. That is where the Labatt silos come in. Construction is already underway to complete a beer garden that will include a tour.

 

“We have something for everybody,” concluded Green. “And we hope people will make RiverWorks a major destination point for years to come.”

 

Until Next Time,

Randy Schultz

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