MAAC tournament returning to Albany

Posted at: 05/29/2013 12:21 PM
Updated at: 05/29/2013 5:55 PM
By: John McLoughlin

ALBANY – The MAAC Championship tournament will be returning to Albany.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning at the Times Union Center.

This is likely big news for Siena basketball fans and for the Capital Region overall.     

The arena in downtown Albany will be home to the tournament for 2015 to 2017.

Attendance figures for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Bridgeport, Conn. and in Springfield, Mass. -- especially in Springfield -- were just a fraction of the Albany numbers.

"For the the Times Union Center and the MAAC, the last four years have been a learning experience. The MAAC has learned that while it could host a successful neutral-site championship, it missed the big time excitement of a full arena," MAAC Commissioner Richard Ensor said.

So the announcement that the presidents of the colleges making up the MAAC voted unanimously to bring it back to the Times Union Center after four years of less than thrilling attendance elsewhere.

This year, only 14,000 fans showed up for the nine basketball sessions in Springfield, compared with 53,000 when the basketball championship was last held in Albany in 2010.

"One of the things that I think the league should be congratulated for and the presidents (of the colleges) is that they saw the neutrality discussion really was trumped by matter of providing a quality atmosphere,” Siena College President the Rev. Kevin Mullen said.

The MAAC says that after the Times Union Center, it then wants to rotate the championships among the 11 member schools.

For Siena, the issue could be moot, if all the rumors about Siena switching to the Atlantic 10 conference are true. The A 10  includes schools such as Butler, George Washington and the University of Massachusetts.