Siena v. UAlbany: rivalry packs the TUC

Posted at: 11/08/2013 11:48 PM
Updated at: 11/09/2013 12:07 AM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - It's the game that fans of the two schools have been waiting for since last spring, and a crowd that downtown Albany businesses are always hoping for.

When Siena College and the University at Albany got together Friday night on the Times Union Center hardwood, it was a dream scenario for everyone.

Long before the lay-up lines, there were long chow lines at the taverns and restaurants outside the Times Union Center. At Pizzeria Sapienza on South Pearl Street, after what was described as a disappointing summer, the rivalry game created a slice of financial heaven.

"Hopefully there'll be  more games, more events, more sports events," says Victor Collazo, of Pizzeria Sapienza, "it helps out the business downtown."

And then there were the fans: energized, enthusiastic, and eager to climb the arena steps for the dream match-up.

"Siena is exciting. UAlbany, with the coming of the program, they're getting better. It just makes for a very exciting rivalry," said Ed Richards, of Troy.

"The arena is just about full rather than half full," Barry Levine, of Mechanicville, points out, "It's an exciting game."

For many area residents, it was a family fun night out. Inside the arena, ti didn't take long for the seats to fill up. Either court side or in the upper deck, everywhere the eye could see, there was either gold-and-green or purple-and-gold.

"We've got about 11,500 fans in the building and it's loud and wonderful and people love it," said Bob Belber, the Times Union Center gneral manager.

That people inside were loving the rivalry atmosphere was apparent. That business owners were equally pleased, was a blessing.

"There are a lot of businesses, restaurants, bars, and hotels," Belber continues, "People are coming in and staying over, families of the athletes that are participating are staying over night so it's just a wonderful economic impact for this market."