If you grew up in a Western New York suburb, you probably remember going to local recreational facilities to chase a ball or puck around while your parents either sat patiently on the sideline or shook a jug of pennies.
Now, RiverWorks is bringing that same community athletics spirit to the banks of the Buffalo River.
With two rink surfaces and holding around 5,000 people at maximum capacity, RiverWorks is also the penultimate multi-use facility. It can be configured to host a roller derby one night, concert the next night and an auto show the next night after that.
“We’re going to use these facilities 12 months out of the year,” Sean Green, RiverWorks’ director of operations and sports development, recently told me as construction personnel swirled around him. “Obviously, we’ll use it for hockey in the winter, as well as curling.”
“In the summertime, we have pickleball, box lacrosse and backyard games,” he added. “We can also do both concerts and amateur events out here.”
With mostly exposed concrete and metal furnishings, RiverWorks in function first and form second. The facility is very modern, but does acknowledge the industrial history of the surrounding area. One particular touch to take note of is the use of old industrial workbenches from the Larkin building as dining tables.
In addition to the events RiverWorks is already capable of hosting, Green said the facility is still being expanded and activities like beach volleyball are coming down the line. That on-going expansions means construction crews are swarming around the venue during the morning and early afternoon. At around 3 p.m., the crews pack up and clean up in time for events and food service.
Green said those renting kayaks at Canalside are more than welcome to paddle down and tie up their boat. He added that RiverWorks will soon be renting its own kayaks and is currently looking into installing a boat launch.
Whether coming by kayak, bike or car – visitors to RiverWorks can now get food at the GLF Grill and drinks at the full-service bar after 4 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. on Saturdays and noon on Sundays. According to the Riverworks Facebook page, their waterfront patio is now open and the facility should have a restaurant called “The Ward” open by late summer.
The same ownership group that operates RiverWorks also owns and operates Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, the Pan-American Bar and Brawler’s Deli. Green said fans of those restaurants should expect the same level of quality at RiverWorks.
“We have all those menus and locations tied in, and so we’re bringing the credibility of those facilities and those locations here to RiverWorks,” he said. “So it’s now just owners coming in and saying ‘here you go.’ It’s people who have roots in Buffalo, who have a strong heritage in Buffalo and want to see Buffalo grow. They are trying to capitalize on the new downtown resurgence and investing in a $20 million project when it’s all said and done.”
As mentioned above, RiverWorks does have food and drink now available all week long, but events and recreation are the real reason to stop down. Green suggested keeping an eye on social media for upcoming events, league and game nights.
359 Ganson St., Buffalo, New York
GLF Grill Hours: Open Mon – Fri @ 4pm, Sat @ 11am & Sun @ 12pm
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