by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page
With Chris Berman’s help, the organizers of an innovative idea are hoping the BFLO Experience “could go all the way.”
All the way to being a reality in Buffalo, and a place to showcase the city’s legends in sports, music and broadcasting.
The ESPN sportscaster and Buffalo booster was in town on Tuesday at a luncheon promoting the drive to build an interactive showpiece combining the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association and the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. It would be built at a location to be determined, and feature permanent and temporary exhibits along with a formal place for each group’s Hall of Fame.
Berman’s appearance raised money and awareness for the project, which has been in the works for some time.
“Our two big problems right now are we need a place. If we had a place, it would be easier to raise funds. We don’t have a place. If we had funds, it would be easier find a place,” said BFLO Experience president Dave Gillen. “The vision for what we want to do is as strong as it has ever been.”
The group did announce a donation of $50,000 from former Channel 7 & ABC executive Phil Beuth. That will allow them to hire personnel to begin the process of selecting a location.
“Everybody loves the idea. We need to make people aware of what we’re doing and find some sizable donations.”
Boomer Berman Boosts Buffalo
The legendary ESPN sportscaster has always had a special relationship with Western New York. It started when he covered the Super Bowl Bills of the 1990’s. That led to friendships with stars like Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, friendships that remain to this day. His appearance was tied to a trip to town for Kelly’s Celebrity Golf Classic.
“Buffalo is in my heart. Folks have welcomed me for 30 years as if I’m one of your own. It’s a wonderful idea,” said Berman.
Berman wowed the crowd with stories of his career, and the early days of ESPN. He was one of the original on-air sportscasters when he started in 1979.
Cool tidbit: Berman’s famous nicknames, a way to stay interested on the 2:30am SportsCenter, begin with baseball pitcher Frank Tanana “Daiquiri.”
A Permanent Home
None of the three Halls of Fame have a permanent location to showcase their stars and standouts. That’s the goal of the BFLO Experience. Gillen estimates the cost of a modern, technology-based museum is getting close to $25 million dollars. That’s part of the reason why the three groups have combined their focus and resources.
“All three groups have the same mission: To build a facility, a museum facility to house all of our artifacts and recognize all the people who have done great work in our organizations. If we could all be under one umbrella and one location, we’d have a greater experience for people. Nobody in Buffalo hasn’t been effected on a daily basis by sports, music and broadcasting.”
Especially Berman, a big fan of music who counts rock stars and athletes among his friends.
“It’s sports, it’s broadcasting, it’s rock ‘n roll. I stand for all three of them.
Famous for his predictions as “Swami,” Berman is confident the BFLO Experience, like the Bills and Buffalo, will be an underdog who reach the goal line.
To learn more about the BFLO Experience, or to support the cause, visit their website.