Even Syracuse’s event capacity puts Niagara Falls to shame

Those in Niagara Falls’ business community know that a post-industrial reality for the city requires new entertainment and event infrastructure capable of cultivating it.   The City’s stark lack of convention, event, and performance venues is a central obstacle to cultivating the tourism economy beyond the 90 day summer season.

Compared to other small cities across Upstate New York, it’s clear that Niagara Falls hasn’t received the attention of New York State that others have enjoyed.  Even compared to Syracuse, NY, Niagara Falls lags far behind.

Syracuse’s OnCenter

The Oncenter is a three-building convention and entertainment complex in Downtown Syracuse. It is composed of a convention center, sporting arena, and theaters.

The Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center, which opened in 1992, consists of 99,000 square feet of rentable space. It is attached to a 1,000-car parking garage.  The convention center is named after Nicholas J. Pirro, the former 20-year executive of Onondaga County.

Tiesto (4) - Syracuse - Sept. 18
The Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center

The Onondaga County War Memorial at the OnCenter is a 6,230-seat multi-purpose arena that has been home to Syracuse’s former NBA team, the Syracuse Nationals, as well as several minor-league hockey, football, and lacrosse teams. Since 1994, it has been home to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

The Onondaga County War Memorial Auditorium

The John H. Mulroy Civic Center Theaters at The Oncenter are home to the Syracuse Opera Company. The Crouse-Hinds Theater, the main theater of the center, contains one of the largest stages in Upstate New York and seats 2,117, on three tiers.

The John H. Mulroy Civic Center Theater

Syracuse’s Empire Expo Center

The Empire Expo Center (also known as the New York State Fairgrounds) is an exhibition ground located in Geddes, a suburb of Syracuse. It features eight exhibition halls and 375 acres (1.52 km2) of ground space, which are used year-round for exhibitions and trade fairs.

Renderings of the new exposition center, funded by New York State.

Its major annual event is the Great New York State Fair which draws approximately one million visitors during its 13-day run, and the entire complex is often referred to as the Fairgrounds.  The State Fair Coliseum located within the Empire Expo Center was the original home of the Syracuse Nationals (now Philadelphia 76ers) professional basketball team.

The State Fairgrounds includes:

Toyota Coliseum, Capacity 7,500
Originally known as the “State Fair Coliseum” until 2015, the venue is an indoor multipurpose arena. It was formerly the home of the Syracuse Nationals. It is now used for agricultural shows and the Tigris Shrine Circus. The Syracuse Stars hockey team played their games in the Coliseum, and won the Calder Cup in the Inaugural Season of (what is now) the American Hockey League. The Midstate Stampede, a youth hockey team, also played in the Coliseum until the ice was removed around 2013. The Syracuse Hornets also played at the Coliseum, but due to financial troubles, the team folded after only 10 games.

Toyota Coliseum at the Empire Expo Center. The space can accommodate rodeos, livestock shows, and the circus.

Lakeview Amphitheater, Capacity, 17,500
Completed in 2015, it replaced the Mohegan Sun Grandstand as the primary concert venue.

The Lakeview Amphitheater at the Empire Expo Center.

Mohegan Sun Grandstand, Capacity: 17,000
Formerly known as the “New York State Fair Grandstand”. Was the main concert venue for the Great New York State Fair. In 2016, the grandstand was demolished.

Chevy Court, Capacity: 2,500-35,000
Formerly known as “Cole Muffler Court”. A festival setting stage that hosts free concerts during the fair. The venue will undergo a $4 million renovation in 2016. It will include new seating, landscaping and a bigger stage to draw big-name acts. Concerts will be organized by Live Nation Entertainment.

Chevy Court, an outdoor concert lawn and bandstand, at the Empire Expo Center.

Empire Theater
Theatre used for local acts, recitals, pageants and film screenings.
Regional Artist Variety Stage
Formerly known as the “Special Events Stage”, the stage hosts a variety of free entertainment spanning from comedy shows to music acts. All performers are from the New York State area.

Grange Stage
Features country music acts, line dancers and cloggers.

Dairyland Stage
A small stage located in the Dairy Products building, providing an “open mic” for amateur acts.

The grounds’ annual events include:

  • Great New York State Fair
  • Syracuse International Horse Show
  • Syracuse Jewelry & Mineral Show
  • Syracuse Nationals (car show)
  • New York State Boer Goat Show
  • Autumn in New York Horse Show
  • Salt City Autumn Antique Show
  • The Great New York State Train Fair
  • Syracuse Construction Career Day Fair

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