BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Riverworks is a year-round hotspot in Buffalo and continues to grow. And recently, News4’s Kelsey Anderson toured his 60,000-square-foot space to see what’s new this summer and beyond.
“It was supposed to be a small operation with two hockey rinks and two indoor activities, but it’s been evolving since then,” said Riverworks CEO Bill Cassar. “Our motto is to keep reinvesting in Buffalo, in our facilities and everything downtown Buffalo has to offer. We are not standing still.”
Before RiverWorks opened in 2014, as CEO Bill Casale admits, the land along the river was desolate.
“It took a grand vision, but when we started, people thought we were crazy,” Casale said. “It was a run-down construction site…an old grain mill, but it had everything that everyone in New York loves…and it was water.”
Casale said the focus is on water. Outdoor seating allows visitors to wave to passing boats. You can also rent kayaks there. Ziplines and the Buffalo Ferris Wheel offer great views.
After the zipline ride, John Copp said, “It was amazing…it was amazing.”
“Downtown needed the grandiose charm of Chicago’s Navy Pier and its surrounding landmarks,” Casale said, referring to Buffalo.
Buffal-O will be completed in 2022. It took 55 cement trucks and over a million pounds of concrete to fill the four-foot foundation above the old, demolished grain silo.
Since then, an additional $3 million renovation has just been completed.
The following features were added to RiverWorks this summer:
- Rent a tiki bar departing from RiverWorks
- virtual reality game room
- ax throwing facility
- New sound system for more concerts
- Banquet hall ideal for weddings and other events
- Jaws Drop Ride
Jaws Drop is a 12-passenger free fall ride for kids and adults. Drops riders to a height of about 50 feet from the summit.
“I mean, I started going crazy,” said 9-year-old Jackson Griffin after riding.
Casale said more than $50 million has been invested in RiverWorks since its inception.
It’s still from now on.
“We have some major plans for growth here, but they are not complete yet,” he said. “We have a very ambitious owner group and we will continue to push forward and see where we go.”
Casale said more events will be held there in the future, including craft shows, live music, charity events, festivals and hockey tournaments.
“Last year was actually the first year we came to Riverworks with our family, and it blew us all away,” said David Kopp, who grew up in New York but left the area. “We took boat tours and ate at restaurants. Compared to when I was a kid, it’s the same day and night here back then. It’s amazing how they’ve built it up.
“Kids have a lot to do,” said Molly Griffin, who was visiting from Massachusetts.
Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who returned to Buffalo in 2018. Find out more about her work here. follow her on twitter.