Albany lands two NCAA regional tourneys
No one could blame Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber if he was humming the Meat Loaf song “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” early Wednesday afternoon.
Belber submitted bids for three NCAA tournament events. He got two of them, one new and the other a familiar one.
The East Regional women’s basketball tournament will make its TU Center debut in 2015 when the arena hosts the semifinals and championship game.
Returning to the TU Center is the NCAA men’s hockey tournament East Regional semifinals and final in 2016.
The only event the TU Center failed to land was the women’s volleyball tournament.
The TU Center has hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament East Regional twice. It had the first and second rounds in 1995, and the semifinals and final in 2003, the year Syracuse beat Auburn in the semifinals and Oklahoma in the final. The Orange went on to win their first NCAA title.
“There’s a growing appeal and draw, and I think there a lot bigger crowds being attracted to Division I women’s basketball,” Belber said. “The East Regional sites in the Northeast and New England
areas, anytime you get a UConn or a Syracuse, some of the bigger teams into the regional, they’re fan bases travel. UConn’s fan base probably travels better than most.
“I think you’ll see a huge crowd here, depending on the teams, obviously. I’m looking forward to hosting the women’s regional.”
The hockey East Regionals return for the ninth time to the TU Center. The last time it was there was in 2010. It al hosted the tournament in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The arena also hosted the Frozen Four in 1992 and 2001.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” Belber said. “The last time we had the ice hockey here, we were very proud to host it at that time. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve hosted it. Frankly, there have been a lot of people who have been asking when are we going to bring it back. I was hoping very much that we would be get this, and 2016 is going to be a fun March for us to bring this back.
“We missed it a lot, the downtown merchants, restaurants and bars. There’s something to be said about having all of the college kids and alumni follow these teams. . . . We’re going to make it a great environment for them.”