N.Y. governor on the hook for Bass Pro comments

Eric Olson, SBJ EditorNew York Gov. David Paterson’s comments about Bass Pro Shops has got him in a bit of hot water.

In a WBEN radio interview, the Empire State governor called Bass Pro Shops’ plan to open a megastore in Buffalo, N.Y., bleak.

“Given the current conditions, the possibility of Bass Pro coming to downtown Buffalo is a little bleaker than it was,” Paterson said 10 days ago.

He flip-flopped hours later:

“I’m advised by the Empire State Development Corp. that the Bass Pro project is still on, and there is a strong belief that it actually can work. Obviously, our budget difficulties are not helping, but we are assured that this project is a lot further from over.”

According to N.Y. media, the Springfield-based outdoor retailer is set to receive around $20 million from the state to build a 150,000-square-foot store on the site of the Memorial Auditorium, which is being demolished as part of downtown Buffalo’s nearly half-a-billion-dollar waterfront redevelopment.

Bass Pro spokesman Larry Whiteley told the N.Y. media Paterson made a bad assumption.

“As far as we can figure out, nobody here has talked to the governor,” Whiteley said. “We are assuming it was an assumption on his part that we would not be coming because of the economy. But our stores are doing quite well.”

It’s been a tense business deal ever since Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris toured the Aud in November 2004; the project originally had a 2008 completion date, but developers now say the target date is Memorial Day 2011.

In other Bass Pro news around the Web:

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