Athletic Events Keep Buffalo’s Tourism Industry Humming

By Brian Hayden

Published on | Last Updated

BUFFALO, NY   Feb. 19, 2020 – Nearly two dozen collegiate and amateur athletic events will bring thousands of attendees to Buffalo in February and March and generate millions of dollars for the local economy.

The 20 events, which range from state swimming and diving championships and national bowling finals to hockey tournaments and dance competitions, will collectively attract more than 12,000 attendees and bring in more than $10.6 million in revenue for the local economy. The teams and fans attending these events will fill the region’s athletic venues – including Erie Community College’s Burt Flickinger Center, Buffalo RiverWorks, LECOM HarborCenter and the Airport Bowling Center – stay at local hotels, visit area attractions and eat in Buffalo’s restaurants.

The top tournaments scheduled for the Buffalo area in February and March include:


  1. February 11-15: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championship, Erie Community College Burt Flickinger Center, 360 attendees, $538,000 Economic Impact.
  2. February 19-23: State University of New York Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championship, Erie Community College Burt Flickinger Center, 1,000 attendees, $917,000 Economic Impact.
  3. March 19-22: New York State YMCA Swimming and Diving Championships, ECC Burt Flickinger Center, 1,200 attendees, $1.2 million economic impact.
  4. Three New York State American Hockey Association Tournaments in March, Northtown Center at Amherst and Cornerstone CFCU Arena in Lockport, 7200 Attendees, $6 million economic impact.
  5. March 25-29, NCAA Division III Hockey Championships, LECOM Harborcenter, 296 attendees, $206,000 Economic Impact.


These athletic events play a critical role in bolstering Buffalo’s tourism economy during the winter months, according to Visit Buffalo Niagara  and Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission President and CEO Patrick Kaler.  They come at a time of year when Buffalo and other cities across the northern United States struggle with lower occupancy rates and fewer visitors – the traditional tourism “off-season.” The BNSC partners with local organizing committees and athletic event organizers to bring tournaments to Buffalo.

“Our efforts to build Buffalo into a premier destination for collegiate and amateur sports are part of a broader strategy to bring visitors to our area at a time of year when our hotels, restaurants and attractions need them the most,” Kaler said. “From swimming and diving to bowling and hockey, these events have become an essential component of our winter tourism economy – and produce tangible benefits to businesses across the region.”

A new Buffalo Niagara Convention Center would help Buffalo grow even further as a destination for amateur athletics. The new center’s proposed 125,000 square foot exhibit hall –nearly double the current center’s – could accommodate a wider range of amateur athletic events because of the additional floor space and spectator seating it would provide, from karate and wrestling tournaments to fencing competitions. The new center’s higher ceiling heights would also open up possibilities for volleyball and badminton matches that the current center cannot accommodate.

“A new convention center would take Buffalo to the next level as an amateur athletics destination and enhance its reputation as a top-tier location for state and national tournaments,” Kaler said.

The Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission is a subsidiary of Visit Buffalo Niagara that promotes Buffalo and Erie County nationally and internationally as a premier sports tourism destination for the economic benefit of the community by boosting hotel occupancy and encouraging visitor spending.

Brian Hayden headshot

Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden served as Visit Buffalo Niagara's Communications Manager from 2014 to 2020 after working as a newspaper reporter and social media manager in Northern New York. Tweet to him @brian_hayden.