One of the Town of Amherst’s regional tourism destinations, the Northtown Center and Audubon Recreation Complex, is working with Uniland Development Company to build and operate an on-site Hampton by Hilton hotel to attract more sports tourism. The hotel will better enable Amherst to market its ice rinks, event space, softball and baseball diamonds, sports fields, skate park, sports training facility, pro shop and restaurant for out-of-town events and tournaments. The addition of the Hampton by Hilton, valued at more than $14 million, is a critical next phase for the Northtown Center complex to attract visitors to this regional sports tourism destination. Already two-thirds of the complex’s event visitors live outside the region.
As sports tourism becomes more popular, the Northtown Center competes for tournaments and special events with sporting facilities around the Northeast, many of which are upgrading their facilities and adding lodging. The hotel’s proximity to the event and sports facilities and its unique, group-oriented design significantly strengthens the complex’s competitiveness to attract events and tournaments, thereby creating even more economic development for the region. According to the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, sports tourism has an economic impact of $70 million on the Buffalo Niagara region.
Uniland has partnered with the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) to implement Universal Design throughout the hotel to ensure the property is accessible to people of all abilities. The ease of access and proximity to event and sport facilities from the hotel will reduce the need for transportation services and improve the guest experience. The Hampton by Hilton at the Northtown Center would be the first hotel in the country to earn isUD Certification based on its inclusive design features.
The proposed Hampton by Hilton hotel is designed to handle large groups such as sports teams. It is planned to have 105 rooms with a greater number of Queen-double rooms. The hotel would also feature a double-sized and divisible meeting space, a double-sized breakfast area and an enlarged pool as well as a plaza and pedestrian connection to the complex.
Building on momentum from the Town of Amherst rezoning the parcel for development of the hotel, Uniland is now applying for critical economic incentives from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency to enable the project to be financially viable. The project is eligible for inducements based on the AIDA policy because it is part of a major tourism attraction and will attract a significant number of people from outside our economic development region. The public hearing on July 6, and the subsequent vote on July 20 are critical dates in the progression of the project.
If the inducements are not provided, this proposed hotel will not proceed.