There are three Capital Region sport spectacles that I circle on my calendar every year. This year one is being removed and I can’t say that I understand why.
The Travers, the Mayor’s Cup and the Albany Cup all hold equal weight in terms of sporting events and clout in this area. The Capital Region isn’t a big city market and when it comes to sports there isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on (compared to most metropolitan areas). So when I heard yesterday that the Albany Cup was not renewed between Siena and UAlbany I felt as if there is only one loser in this scenario.
And no it’s not the schools. It is in fact the Capital Region sports fan.
I’m currently a student at the University at Albany and I will admit that my views on the situation might be a little misconstrued. That being said I’m also a journalist and objectivity is the main goal with any story.
I had the privilege to cover the past two Albany Cups as a writer and the sports editor to the Albany Student Press. Let me tell you that this non conference game is talked about and looked forward to by all basketball fans alike. There’s just a certain aura about the game. It’s local bragging rights for two Division I programs in a market where they are king.
Last year it was the Great Danes that just edged out the Saints 74-69 in front of an announced crowd just shy of 10,000 people at the Times Union Center. The win was the Danes’ second Albany Cup victory in-a-row and they’ve now won 5-of-6.
When the Cup was first played Siena beat UAlbany eight of the first nine games. It wasn’t really considered a rivalry. As of late the tables have turned and the Danes seem like the perennial power in the area. Of the 17 total Albany Cups games played 16 of them were done so at the TU Center, the Saint’s home court.
In 2016 the games switched venues and was played on UAlbany’s turf at the SEFCU Arena. That game was sold out and was played in front of a crowd of 4,538. It was the hottest ticket in town that that venue might have been the loudest building I’ve ever heard. I’ve been to the Carrier Dome and seen quite a few ‘Cuse games. The Albany Cup game that was played at SEFCU would pass that litmus test.
Since then Siena refuses to play at 1400 Washington Avenue because they believe that it is unfair for the Capital Region to potentially miss out on watching the game live because the SEFCU on holds just over a third of what the TU can accommodate. That’s all fine and dandy, but at the same time you can’t name any other rivalry in sports where one team has to consistently play in the other team’s building. It’s just not fair and thats how UAlbany head coach Will Brown, athletic director Mark Benson and the rest of the Great Dane fan base see it, including myself.
So now we are at a stalemate and both sides have dug themselves in. The game should be played in both venues, but this matchup has been put on ice just because of the argument. Egos are driving this game and I just want to be let off at the next stop.
The only thing that is stopping me from rioting in the streets to get this game back is the fact that both schools are rebuilding and aren’t really expected to do much this season. At the same time this game might be the only one for both teams that have the playoff environment.
Either way this is just a sad loss for the Capital Region all the way around.
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