MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor announced moments ago that conference basketball tournaments will return to Albany's Times Union Center, the largest venue in the league, effective in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Siena College)
The largest arena in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will once again be the home of the league's two postseason basketball championships, as the Times Union Center in Albany was selected to host the MAAC basketball championships on a three-year agreement beginning in 2015 and ending in 2017. Next season's men's and women's basketball championships will once again be contested at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, fulfilling the final year of a three-year obligation between the conference and the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
"In evaluating the bids, as in the last bid cycle, the MAAC required that the league's minimum financial, ancillary event hosting and budget thresholds be met by the bid cities," remarked MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor, who revealed that the vote to award the championships to Albany for the first time since 2010 was a unanimous decision. Ensor also announced that three other venues had submitted a bid to host, including Bridgeport, Connecticut; who played host to the 2011 MAAC Championships at the WebsterBank Arena, as well as the MassMutual Center and the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. "Albany and other sites met this standard, with the Times Union Center being selected because of its history of high attendance, downtown hotels and restaurants for the fans to utilize, and the experience of Albany's local organizing committee on hosting successful events with the MAAC and Siena College," Ensor said. It is worth noting that a record 53,569 fans attended the MAAC Championships in 2010 when Albany last played host, a year in which Siena capitalized on the home crowd to win its third consecutive men's basketball championship under then-coach Fran McCaffery.
Current Saints coach Jimmy Patsos, who made no secret of his desire to have the MAAC Tournament contested in Albany when we spoke to him last month, praised the decision made moments ago at a press conference inside the Times Union Center. "I believe the Times Union Center is the best place for the fans, and the MAAC brand looks great because the location provides easy access for all the schools and their fans," Patsos said. "When I was at Loyola, I said the same thing, and the student-athletes really enjoyed the experience."
The 2015 MAAC Championships will mark the sixteenth time in which Albany has been the host city for the men's and women's basketball tournaments, with the first time coming in 1990. The Albany Times Union's Mark Singelais also reports that the Times Union Center has guaranteed the MAAC $250,000 for each of the three seasons in which Albany hosts the conference championships, a number that the arena and neighboring businesses will almost certainly recover rather easily.
The 2015 MAAC basketball championships will be contested from March 5th-9th at the Times Union Center.