Date ArticleType
3/5/2018 Chamber News
Wow! The National Comedy Center is Going to be Amazing!

We were privileged to get an advance tour of the National Comedy Center this past week. The reuse of the former Jamestown train station will not only be beautiful, it will also be a highly advanced center for interactive technology. Wow! Amazing! This is a ‘big freaking deal’ for Jamestown, for the region and for New York State. I cannot wait for opening day!

If you’re thinking that the National Comedy Center will be an extension of the current Lucy-Desi Museum for Comedy, think again. This new and extraordinary space will house some comedy artifacts, but more than that it will highlight and personalize an encounter that allows each visitor to reflect on the nature of comedy as they see it and to experience comedy in their own way. Whether you’re a fan of Jerry Seinfeld or Rodney Dangerfield, you’ll be presented with a comedy experience tailored to your tastes. If you like Tina Fey or Joan Rivers, you’ll see, hear, and feel comedy material that is meaningful to you. Think of a buffet, where there are dishes to please everyone, but you can choose your favorite items. Now think about that happening through a series of holograms, animations, theater venues, audio and visual pieces, and much more. In addition, it will all happen in an architecturally fascinating space that blends the centuries through exposed brick combined with the use of color and high end materials and fixtures. Even while it’s still under construction, we can see already that it will be a wonderland for the senses.
This new national attraction is slated to open at the beginning of August. Contractors and staff are confidently hustling to meet that deadline. So for the rest of us these questions remain: Is our community ready to welcome a projected 112,000 visitors annually? Do we have the infrastructure in place to support this center? Can visitors find parking, and also find other attractions, restaurants, and businesses while they’re here? How will the National Comedy Center affect existing businesses?

Some of these issues remain unresolved and we are working with others in the community to ensure the best possible experience for visitors.  There is adequate parking available in Jamestown, so we need to be able to point people to available parking ramps and lots with appropriate signage. We also need way-finding signs in the downtown area so that visitors can find all the great attractions as well as restaurants, entertainment, and retailers. We strongly encourage all state and local elected officials to continue their work on these efforts.

Some of the major construction projects happening in tandem with the National Comedy Center will be accomplished prior to its opening, including at least a portion of the reconstruction of West Second Street between Washington and Lafayette to create a piazza that can be open to traffic and, when needed, easily closed off for festivals and functions. The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts also expects to have its lobby renovations completed before the Comedy Center ribbon cutting.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and Jamestown Up Close are developing an Ambassador Program, designed to create knowledgeable, positive, and visible hubs where visitors can find the information or directions they need. Going hand-in-hand with that, the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau recently worked with the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation to develop a series of fun, online, video tutorials about creating a strong customer service staff for any business. All of these things are good business practices to begin with, and we recommend that any business owner or employee work within these frameworks and with the JRC and CCVB. In addition, the Chamber stands ready to work with any business to assist in strengthening your online presence, which is vitally important to connect with travelers who may be seeking local flavor during their stay in the area.

While we are accustomed to having summer visitors in Chautauqua County to enjoy our lakes, quaint villages, and historic sites, this new attraction will further elevate our region into a tourism destination on a national and international level that we have not seen before. This will be an economic driver for our whole area.  Let’s all buckle up together, and get ready for an amazing and fun-filled ride.

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