There was a study that I looked at for a lit-review for my MSc that compared accute sodium Bi-carb with long term beta-alanine use.
Bascially 8 weeks of beta-alanine allowed the subjects (well trained short distance swimmers) to swim significantly faster then the placebo group.
at the end of the 8 weeks, both groups were split up again and half got bi-carb and half got another placebo. (so now 4 groups, Placebo+placebo, Placebo+bi-carb, BA+Placebo, BA+bi-carb)
In the end, acute bi-carb pretty much matched long term BA, but adding bi-carb to the BA group didnt help any more then BA or bi-carb.
in short, chronic beta-alanine can potentially help just as much as sodium bi-carb in buffering lactic acid etc...