UAlbany expecting big crowds for Giants camp

The Super Bowl champion New York Giants figure to draw bigger crowds than normal to their training c
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Super Bowl MVP, signs autographs for fans during training camp last summer at the University at Albany. (University at Albany photo) l
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Super Bowl MVP, signs autographs for fans during training camp last summer at the University at Albany. (University at Albany photo) l

When the Super Bowl champion New York Giants set up training camp for the 13th consecutive year at University at Albany next month, more fans than ever are expected to get up close and personal with the the likes of Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and Osi Umenyiora.

The Giants, who defeated the New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII, open summer training camp on Friday, July 25. The camp concludes Sunday, Aug. 17. The Giants will practice 19 days on the UAlbany campus, including 10 double sessions. The first night practice will be July 28 at 6:10 p.m.

In 12 previous seasons at UAlbany, preseason camp has averaged 31,032 fans. The all-time mark of 45,040 was set in 2004, but UAlbany officials are expecting that

record to be shattered this summer.

“Giants camp has become a real family affair,” said UAlbany sports information director and assistant athletic director Brian DePasquale. “What a lot of people have done in recent seasons is to come for both sessions on a double practice session day. They set up their parking at Dutch Quad, go to the early practice session, go back to the parking lot to tailgate and grill out, and then go out at night to see the 6:10 p.m. session. Since the track [Saratoga Race Course] is going on at the same time, some people go to a morning practice and then go to the track in the afternoon. There are lots of ways to enjoy both

Giants camp and the rest of the things that are going on in the Cap­ital Region this summer.

“There are some special things planned this year, but we’re not exactly sure just what is going on yet. One thing that may happen is that the Super Bowl trophy could be brought to training camp for everyone to see.”

Admission is free, but there is a daily parking fee of $5 at Dutch Quad. An all-session parking pass is available for $15 and can be purchased beginning July 7 in the

SEFCU Arena lobby.

According to Kevin Galuski, who is both the UAlbany athletic equipment manager as well as the director of operations for Giants training camp, large crowds are anticipated.

“I would think that in the first five to seven days of the first week, there will definitely be a dramatic increase in attendance,” said Gal­uski. “We’re expecting maybe a 100 percent increase to what we usually have on a daily basis. Our university police department did some research with other teams that have won the

Super Bowl, and they found out that there was usually a 200 to 300 percent increase in attendance at the Super Bowl winner’s training camp that next summer. I’m not saying we will get that many people, but it’s a possibility.”

Galuski said that there are concerns about the crowds becoming too large.

“It’s a unique situation the way we have the practice fields set up,” he said. “It’s such a wide-open area. Our No. 1 priority is security. We want the players to get on and off the field without any issues. We want to make sure that everything flows like a normal training camp day, regardless of whether the team won the Super Bowl or not.”

But Galuski admitted that hosting the Super Bowl champs changes the way his staff will treat this year’s camp.

“The Super Bowl is past us, but we have hurdles to climb with the everyday stuff because we have the Super Bowl champions coming here,” Galuski said. “We’re just hoping that everything settles down after the first week or so.

“There is definitely excitement all over campus in preparation for this event. We are trying to be proactive in making sure that

everyone is on board with how we are handling security. We’ve even hired extra security that we’ve outsourced just for training camp. We did the same thing last year, but this year we’re going to put the extra guys on for longer hours the first couple of days.”

UAlbany’s athletic staff has been planning for Giants training camp for several months.

“We’ve had a group that’s been meeting every month since Feb­ruary, and as the camp gets closer, they’ve been meeting every two weeks. A lot of the preparation work has already been done,” said DePasquale.

“We’ve been trying to treat this as business as usual, but we have had a lot of meetings on campus with the housing, food and security departments to make sure everyone is on the same page,” said Galuski. “I have a staff of 25 kids that I’ve hired to help out.”

Galuski’s focus on training camp started several months ago.

“For me, Giants training camp really started in April,” he said. “I started meeting with the people on campus, and I got on the phone with the Giants director of oper­ations. [Giants media director] Pat Hanlon came up here and did a walk-through with me and my staff. We just tried to finalize a few things.”

When the Giants come to town, they literally take over all of UAlb­any’s athletic offices.

“On July 10, basically everyone in SEFCU Arena and the Physical Education building gets moved out to other offices,” said Galuski. “We come in and move the computers and the telephones. We set up some partitions, and then we set up new desks and work stations. When the Giants come in, head coach Tom Coughlin gets [head basketball coach] Will Brown’s office, and the offensive and defensive coaches move into the other basketball offices. The men’s soccer coaches get moved to the crew office, as do the women’s basketball coaches.

“It usually takes six or seven hours to complete the move. This is my seventh year doing this, and luckily, we have enough staff around to help out. Everyone understands why we have to do this. The Giants take over the whole campus. It does disturb our coaching staff, because our football team starts practice Aug. 2, and then field hockey starts their season right

after that.

“Everybody’s practice sessions get moved to accommodate the Giants, but it’s worth it. They bring a lot of attention to campus when they come here, and this year will be very special.”

Galuski said fans who come to Giants camp will receive the service they expect.

“Parking should be no problem, because there is plenty of space in Dutch Quad, and it’s never been an issue before,” he said.

“Boscov’s has an agreement with us, and they set up a merchandising tent with Giants T-shirts, jerseys and hats. The players are great about giving autographs, and our food service provides hot dogs, lemonade and other snacks. There are even special things, like a field-goal kicking area and an obstacle course for the kids. It’s very fan- friendly.”

For more information on

Giants camp, visit www.giants.com or www.ualbanysports.com.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE

July 25 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 3:20 to 5:20 p.m.; July 26 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 3:20 to 5:20 p.m.; July 27 — no practice; July 28 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; July 29 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; July 30 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; July 31 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 1 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 2 — no practice; Aug. 3 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 4 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 5 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 6 — 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. (jog-thru); Aug. 7 — NFL preseason game at Detroit, 7; Aug. 8 — no practice; Aug. 9 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 10 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 11 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 12 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 13 — no practice; Aug. 14 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 15 — 8:40 to 10:40 a.m.; 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; Aug. 16 — 2:40 to 4:50 p.m.; Aug. 17 — 8:30 to 10 a.m. (jog-thru); camp ends; Aug. 18 — NFL preseason game vs. Cleveland, 8.

Categories: Sports

Leave a Reply