Nassau County officials and local business owners began attempt to lure MAAC Tournament to Long Island with sales pitch Thursday morning. Below, a bracket backdrop shows MAAC schools who would contest conference tournament in 2020. (Photos by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)By Vincent Simone (@VTSimone)
EAST MEADOW, NY -- As winter turns to spring, baseball fans aren’t the only ones pushing hope into the emerging season.
Nassau County officials and local business owners, led by Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes and Canisius College alumnus Don Clavin, gathered at Borrelli’s Restaurant Café & Pizzeria in East Meadow Thursday morning to make an official pitch for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament to make its way to Long Island.
Located just a little more than a mile from prospective host site Nassau Coliseum, Borrelli’s is one of a number of local businesses which stand to benefit should the league settle on Nassau County as the tournament’s new host.
“It’s a slam dunk for the alumni,” Clavin said. “You have eleven schools that have a massive amount of alumni residents here in Nassau and Suffolk County that would love to come see this tournament.”
The league tournament is set to remain at Albany’s Times Union Center in 2019, but the process of choosing a site for the three-year 2020-22 cycle is scheduled to conclude in the coming months, with a decision due in May. Nassau Coliseum is one of three finalists, along with Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and an extended stay in Albany.
The Times Union Center underwent a facelift to modernize and enclose its entrance atrium in the last year, but will have played host to the tournament for five consecutive years by the end of the current cycle. In addition, while Albany is a geographic center point for the conference, there have been enduring calls to move the tournament away from the home court of league member Siena and make it a truly neutral event.
Newly renovated in April 2017, Nassau Coliseum has already undergone use for multiple basketball events. The building serves as the full-time home of the NBA G League’s Long Island Nets, and played host to a game between Hofstra and Villanova, as well as a MAAC tripleheader during the 2017-18 season.
That tripleheader – featuring league members Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Marist, Monmouth, Iona, and Manhattan – drew an official crowd of 2,600. Those same teams are scheduled to participate in a repeat of the event during the 2018-19 season.
Piggybacking on that growing presence at the Coliseum, Clavin notes the postseason tournament and associated importance of each game would certainly be an attractive draw for all alumni and college basketball fans.
Clavin estimates a MAAC tournament move to Nassau Coliseum would bring in up to $5 million of revenue to the arena and surrounding businesses each year. As part of his pitch to the MAAC Council of Presidents, Clavin emphasized his willingness to promote the conference and its member programs through events at local schools involving team mascots and event-themed special offers at Nassau businesses.
“We want this tournament,” Clavin declared. “It fits in here.”