Garth fans use trains to avoid parking nightmare

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Wendy Santiago and her husband had just checked out of the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Buffalo when we caught up with them. They were in town for, you guessed it, Sunday night’s Garth Brooks concert.

“It was amazing,” she said.

They are the perfect example of why downtown businesses are feeling so good after the long weekend.

“What we did is took a walk and went to Pearl Street Brewery — that was really nice,” she said.

The Hilton Garden Inn was sold out four straight days.

“Thursdays and Sundays are not typical sell-out days. But it was great having Garth in town because he really brought a lot of activity into the area. A lot of business. A lot of activity into the area. And it was great to be sold out for four straight days,” said general manager Paul Williamson.

Workers there said up to 40 percent of their guests were Canadian.

Buffalo Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer says they didn’t haven any problems with parking — and the downtown area wasn’t even filled to capacity with cars.

A big reason? A lot of people parked further away and rode the train downtown instead.

NFTA officials estimate 3,000 people for each show used the train. Add up six shows, and that’s 18,000 passengers over four days.

“I’ve been here coming on 17 years, and it’s probably the most people we have moved over that course of time going back that period of time,” said NFTA public affairs director Doug Hartmayer.

People all over downtown are singing the success of the “Garth impact” — and Wendy thinks it proves a Bills stadium would make a perfect fit.

There were a couple issues. A couple ticket machines at University Station stopped working on Friday night, so people got to ride the train for free until those were fixed.

The communications manager for Visit Buffalo Niagara says they have no idea how many visitors the concerts brought to Buffalo or what the economic impact might have been.

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