Foxprowl-Con should boost Batavia's economy

Jul 21, 2015

By Joanne Beck jbeck@batavianews.com

BATAVIA — While Bill Hume and his helpers map out a huge three-day convention, they’re not just thinking about Hume’s  bottom line.

There’s also the local commerce. Drawing an expected 5,000 or more people to Hume’s Foxprowl-Con this fall is bound to have a residual effect.

“We want to use this as a catalyst for getting a convention center. We want to do it local,” fellow organizer Tim Schiefer said. “We want people with local businesses to reach out to us ... the whole point is to stimulate business.”

By having at least 125 vendors, celebrities and workshops proven to attract people elsewhere, Hume and Schiefer hope to have a similar experience here. In turn, those visitors may book a hotel, eat at restaurants and shop the city’s merchants. In other words, “they’re going to be spending money,” Hume said.

Kelly Rapone of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce said that it’s difficult to gauge numbers with a first-time event such as this. Using conservative estimates, she thinks that $18,000 for 200 one-night room reservations is realistic. That’s plus food and “incidental spending” for another $200,000 per day.

At a more moderate number of 3,500 attendees, that could mean $320,000 for the two days, including $25,000 in sales tax and $1,200 in bed tax.

Restaurants always do better than other type businesses with these events, she said. That’s not to say that visitors wouldn’t take a special trip to Oliver’s, get gas here or shop for other retail items.

The Chamber will be helping to promote overnight stays and staff looks forward to the convention, Rapone said.

“We’re excited,” she said. “Any time someone’s trying to generate business for the county and for the city ... we will do anything we can to support it.”

Hume hopes that other places will jump on board to offer specials during the big event. It’s Nov. 20 to 22 and is to bring people from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Pennsylvania.

When those droves of people pour out of the Clarion Hotel at the end of each day’s pop culture fest, they’re going to be doing a different type of prowl, Hume said.

“They’re going to want to eat, they’re going to want to watch a movie, they’re going to want to socialize,” he said.

Perhaps a local restaurant could offer a special along with the chance that former wrestler Bryan Clark will show up. Or someone could organize a shuttle to take visitors from their hotels to downtown for a movie or dinner. Those are some of his thoughts so far. His team wants to do as much local advertising and sponsorships as possible.

“It’s a cool event,” Hume said. “It’s home grown.”