National Comedy Center Awarded $1.5 Million By New York State

JAMESTOWN, NY – December 11, 2014 – The National Comedy Center (NCC) project in Jamestown, NY has been awarded $1.5 million by the 2014 NYS Regional Economic Development Council and Governor Andrew Cuomo. The $1.5 million in Empire State Development funds will help complete the NCC’s vision for the first national attraction complex dedicated to the art of comedy in the United States.

Officials with the project, Chairman Tom Benson and Executive Director Journey Gunderson, were in Albany for the announcement on the project proposal submitted last March.

The project proposal was scored and named to the “priority list” of projects by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, officially naming the National Comedy Center part of the WNY Council’s strategy for the revitalization of the region. The Regional Council’s submission of projects was considered by Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Development team, the result of which was announced today at noon, Eastern Standard Time.

“By virtue of receiving funding from New York State, the National Comedy Center is formally adopted as part of the State’s long-term, state-wide tourism strategy and we are looking forward to creating a place of laughter and learning for generations to come,” said project Chairman Tom Benson.

“It’s great to partner with New York State on this project,” said Journey Gunderson, Executive Director. “Jamestown already brings visitors from 37 states to its annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and with this funding commitment we can move forward building the national visitor experience in comedy we’ve worked with the best of the best to design.”

Global economics firm AECOM has been the financial feasibility consultant on the project, and estimates a $26 million annual economic impact on the region resulting from a projected 122,000 visitors.

The National Comedy Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is designed to be a national attraction based on the celebration of comedy: the craft and its contributors, and embodies Lucille Ball’s vision for her hometown of Jamestown, New York. The visitor experience has been designed by world-renown creative firms, Jack Rouse Associates.

The proposed project site is comprised of the adaptive reuse of both the Erie-Lackawanna train station in Jamestown (an art-deco building on the national historic registry that recently underwent a $12 million restoration), and a public utility / former trolley station building, along with construction of a new connecting building on the corner of Washington and 2nd Street to provide the necessary total square feet of exhibit space.

The National Comedy Center is part of a four-pillar Legacy of Laughter vision for the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum & Center for Comedy, including a comedic arts education program, a comedy film festival and the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. The 2015 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will take place from July 30 – August 2, and features comedians from across the country including headliner Jerry Seinfeld, August 1st. For additional information, visit www.lucycomedyfest.com.

Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, NY honors the legacy of “The First Couple of Comedy” with the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. The museum attraction is open seven days a week, and features replica sets, Lucille Ball’s Emmy awards, costumes, rare memorabilia, and much more. For additional information on the Lucy Desi Museum & Center for Comedy, as well as its online gift shop, visit www.lucy-desi.com.