Times Union Center to host NCAA tournament games

April 18, 2017 06:43 PM

ALBANY – It’s a slam dunk for Albany. The NCAA announced Tuesday that the Times Union Center will host the NCAA Women’s Basketball East Regional in 2019, and first and second round games in the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

“The region is going to be able to see such great basketball,” said Bob Belber, SMG Regional General Manager of the Times Union Center. There’s going to be a lot of March Madness at the Times Union Center. The arena is already hosting the Women’s Basketball East Regional in 2018. Tuesday, it was announced it will also get the 2019 East Regional.

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“So we’re going to have back to back East Regionals for Women’s Basketball, which is fantastic,” said Belber. “And then on top of that we have the men coming back in 2020.”

The men’s tournament will make its return to Albany for the first time since 2003 when Syracuse won the region and then the National Championship. It was the end of a four year run of NCAA Championship events for the Times Union Center. “So we had quite a run back then,” said Belber. “We’d like to get that back on track so we do that again.”

Belber credits the current facelift going on at the Times Union Center, along with the brand new Albany Capital Center, for helping the arena secure these bids. “Without the investment of Albany County and the state of New York for these facility improvements, this never would have happened,” said Belber.

“I think it’s a reward for all the hard work that people have put in with the Capital Center and renovating the Times Union Center,” said John D’Argenio, Director of Athletics at Siena College.

The Capital Center is a huge part of the arena’s bid. It will host practices before the games, and then a fan fest once the tournament starts. “We’ll be able to host the practices and then immediately after they’re done, the next day they would start the championship, overnight we’ll convert it into a fan fest space,” said Belber.

And while some might have hoped for a regional final like 2003, supporters say hosting first and second round games is better for local businesses. “From an economic impact to the market, the number of hotel rooms that actually get booked and used, the first and second rounds have more teams, and they have more fans that come in to support them,” said Belber.

The economic impact of the games is expected to be in the millions of dollars. When the MAAC Tournament is hosted at the Times Union Center, the economic impact is over a million dollars.


Ben Amey

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