Cuomo is considering a tax credit for performance venues in Niagara Falls

Governor Andrew Cuomo and economic development officials in his administration are considering a Niagara Falls-specific tax credit that would fund 40% of the construction cost of performance venues ranging from 150 to 5,000 seats.

Administration officials tell The Chronicle that the economic development strategy is intended to extend the average visitor stay — which currently averages around four hours. Tourism experts argue that doing so requires a slew of performance venues of every variety — from small comedy clubs and dinner theatre to 5,000-seat broad stages capable of hosting a Broadway production or a symphony orchestra.

The tax credit is designed for current or future property owners located within two miles of Niagara Falls State Park. To participate in the financing program, operators must commit to offering live performances for at least 180 days each year, in an effort to make the city a year-round destination.

Members of the business community who advocate for the tax credit hope that it will allow the city to land major Vegas-style performances, like Cirque du Soleil, and major performer-residencies, perhaps with an emphasis in the country music space.

They liken the incentive program to the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. It’s unclear how much the State will allocate to the program, in light of the administration’s current fiscal crisis, but local officials are hopeful for $150 million annually for five to ten years.

Developers hope that the tax credit will help fund the construction of new performance theaters, comedy clubs, and adult entertainment venues along Main Street in the City’s North End. That historic commercial district suffers from vacant lots that could accommodate the infill development.

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