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JAN 06 - JAN 14, 2015

Guitar Drop Strikes Sour Political Note

By Anna M. Howard

January 06, 2015

The Niagara Falls Hard Rock Cafe celebrated the New Year by dropping a 10 foot Gibson Guitar from a 120 foot scaffold. Niagara Falls taxpayers paid $10,000 for the party.

It was such a shame.

All the unnecessary hand wringing and gnashing of teeth over the city funding or not funding the Hard Rock Café New Year's Eve Guitar Drop.

While Mayor Paul Dyster pulled his political punch by withdrawing his initial request for a $27,000 contribution from the city's bed tax account, the mayor eventually convinced the council majority to contribute $10,000 in bed taxes toward the New Year's Eve celebration.

The shame is that it didn't have to go that way.

Why didn't the city work, during the course of the past year, to locate corporate sponsors. Why didn't the Hard Rock find corporate sponsors instead of asking the city to pick up part of the tab?

This billion-dollar corporation, owned by the Seminole Nation, operates facilities across the globe and they couldn't manage this local lift?

If Hard Rock couldn't step up fully or completely then why didn't Gibson Guitar Corp chip in?

There's the one-of-a-kind location of Niagara Falls, the billion Dollar Hard Rock Corporation and the world-class Gibson guitar company --and yet it went off the rails.

Do we still have an active Attractions Association or an active Hotel Association in the city that could have become involved in raising dollars and sponsoring the event?

Could the city-subsidized businesses on Third Street have worked to bring some heavy hitters to the table for a New Year's Eve "Celebrate the First on Third" event?

Where were USA Niagara and their plans to develop a downtown Business Improvement District with special events?

Did anyone from city hall or the Hard Rock suggest anything more creative than "let's have the taxpayers kick in again?"

Was the Hamister Group approached as a sponsor? This would have been a perfect opportunity for the group to introduce themselves in the downtown, a downtown they will soon be locating in according to Mayor Dyster with a heavily taxpayer subsidized hotel.

How about Uniland and the Wonderfalls project? Uniland's project has been announced and supported by Governor Cuomo with major taxpayer contributions. Did anyone dial Uniland's number?

Did anyone call the Maid of the Mist or Delaware North to see if they had an interest in coming aboard?

And, heaven forbid, did anyone consider contacting Hornblower Tours?

Remember, folks: "Two nations one attraction."

And yet, with all those big names on the local playing field it came down to the mayor and council majority raiding the bed tax because "it's not taxpayer money" to throw a New Year's Eve party.

Truly unfortunate was the political food fight that was touched off as the funding dispute generated news stories about the disparity between the American and Canadian New Year's Eve celebrations.

The American side isn't as built up as the Canadian side and since that's no secret it shouldn't be an embarrassment in itself. It should be seen as a problem to solve.

What is embarrassing is the continual circular firing squad and lack of creative thinking that's part and parcel of city government.

Maybe the Dyster administration can make a New Year's resolution to find appropriate funding for the 2016 guitar drop.

They've got a one-year heads up.





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