LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will be returning to Albany for an additional two years. The MAAC Council of Presidents voted on Wednesday in New York City to award the 2018 and 2019 MAAC Basketball Championships to the Times Union Center. The agreement extends the run of MAAC Basketball Championships in the Capital Region to five years, as the Times Union Center and Siena College have hosted the past two tournaments and are scheduled to do so again next March 2-6.
“The Times Union Center and Siena College have forged a strong partnership design funded with a mix of sponsorship dollars and public grants to remain the premier site for the MAAC Championships,” noted MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “It’s a strong local economic driver during its six days at the Times Union Center, as 2017 March Madness begins in Albany and ends in Phoenix for the men and Dallas for the women when a national champion will be determined for each event. No other MAAC venue has demonstrated such sustainable support and consistent fan attendance for the championships.”
The Times Union Center, formerly known as Knickerbocker Arena and more recently Pepsi Arena, has served along with Siena College as the host for 17 of the past 27 MAAC Basketball Championships since Siena joined the conference in 1989-90. The most recent 2016 MAAC Basketball Championships held this March 3-7 drew nearly 30,000 fans, which was almost a 25% increase in attendance from the previous year.
"We're thankful that the MAAC Council of Presidents has embraced the Times Union Center’s offer to host the tournament for two additional years,” said Siena College Vice President and Director of Athletics John D’Argenio. “That decision speaks to the commitment that both Albany County and Siena College have made over the many decades to cultivate and grow college basketball – specifically MAAC Basketball – in the Capital Region. Bringing the tournament back to the Times Union Center is a testament to the area’s college basketball fans.”
The MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships have enjoyed tremendous support throughout the tournament’s history in Albany. The 2010 MAAC Championships drew a record 53,639 fans, including 10,769 for the men’s championship game between Siena and Fairfield. Both the 2000 and 2009 MAAC Championships also exceeded 50,000 fans, and 11 times the tournament has drawn single-game crowds of 10,000 or more in Albany. A record 12,231 fans attended the first men’s MAAC Tournament game in Albany between Siena and Canisius on Mar. 3, 1990.
“The residents of the Capital District are no strangers to basketball,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “The MAAC student athletes provide skill and entertainment to fans during the regular season, and everyone looks forward to watching them face off during Championship Week. We’re excited to continue to host the MAAC Championships and show all that Albany County has to offer to the MAAC member schools, their student athletes and fans.”
A report released by Canisius College revealed that the economic impact of the 2015 MAAC Basketball Championships was measured at a total of $3.95 million dollars. That figure reflected money generated throughout Championship Week by fan activity in Albany, including food, travel and accommodations from the 20 visiting teams as well as visiting fans. The economic impact continued to grow in 2016 according to the report’s authors Dr. Shawn O’Rourke, Kristen Saviola and James Donovan to a total of $3,959,025.
“The Times Union Center cannot wait to continue the tradition of hosting the MAAC,” said SMG General Manager of the Times Union Center Bob Belber. “We are honored to be able to provide a place for the athletes to compete, while giving our local businesses opportunities to thrive and spread positivity throughout the Capital Region.”
Following a successful first run, the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will return in celebration of the MAAC Basketball Championships. The inaugural tip-off event drew hundreds of basketball fans to downtown Albany this March to sample gourmet mac-n-cheese dishes from numerous Albany restaurants, as well as multiple varietals of craft beer from New York breweries. The event, organized by the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau with support from the Downtown Albany BID, raised $1,000 for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Times Union Hope Fund.