A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.

A Day in the Life: Erie Events Executive Director Talks about the Bayfront Place Walkway

From the desk of Casey Wells, Erie Events Executive Director:

The City of Erie Zoning Hearing Board rightly affirmed the determination of the City Zoning Officer on the Erie County Convention Center Authority’s (ECCCA) Bayfront Place design as fully compliant with all waterfront zoning regulations.  The ECCCA provided an uninterrupted 1100’ long, 12-14’ wide asphalt pathway for the entire length of the property.  This alone, satisfies zoning requirements.

To further enhance the walkway, the ECCCA built a second walkway, nearer to the waters edge, ranging from 6’ to 30’ in width constructed of scribed concrete, imbedded stones and decorative concrete pavers.  An assortment of ornamental grasses, lilies and other plantings separate the two pathways.  This allows for a soft buffer in between those enjoying more active recreational pursuits and those interested in more passive use. The smaller pathway intentionally does not extend to the top of the sea wall in all locations which eliminates the need for a 42” safety railing.  This allows visitors to enjoy the view of Erie’s magnificent Presque Isle Bay without obstructions.  Park benches, trash cans, pet potty stations, fishing pods and safety ladders are also available to better meet the needs of citizens visiting the waterfront.  Finally, the ECCCA also included a 20 foot swath of turf grass and trees to complete a richly designed waterfront parkway.

Although the property provides areas for fishing, it is not only for fisherman.  It is a waterfront parkway that encourages both active and passive recreational uses for all the residents of our region, including fisherman, runners, walkers, bicyclists and those who simply want to sit on a bench and enjoy an unobstructed sunset over our beautiful waterfront.

It is now open to the public, but only accessible from the western entrance due to construction activities near the Convention Center.  I hope you are able to visit and trust you will enjoy your new waterfront parkway.