High Schools: Tourneys look safe if Civic Center sold

Arena may be sold.

Basketball and wrestling postseason competition has been a staple of the winter weekend calendar at the Glens Falls Civic Center for better than three decades.

The pending sale of the building should not affect those relationships, at least in the near future, according to the Section II chairmen of those two sports.

The state basketball tournament contract has two years remaining on the most recent three-year agreement.

Section II has contracted to use the building for the two-day state wrestling qualifier through next winter.

“It states in there that if they do sell it [the building], it goes along with the agreement that the contracts will be honored,” said outgoing Section II basketball chairman Mike Lilac. “Of course, things could change. But right now, I don’t foresee any problem with it. We’re pretty sure whomever buys the Civic Center will keep the popular events going.”

The state basketball championships wrapped up its 34th consecutive stay in Glens Falls this winter. Lilac thinks the tournament will remain in Glens Falls for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got two more years on the current contract, and next year bids are put in again,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone else will bid on it. I think they’re resigned to the fact that all of the basketball chairmen like it where it is. It’s so popular there, I think they’re happy with it.”

Section II has used the Civic Center to host its two-day wrestling championships all but eight years since the

1979-80 school year. The GFCC has hosted the event every year since 1997, except for 2013, when the forecast called for heavy snow, and the tourney was moved to Queensbury High and condensed to one day.

“We’re probably OK for next year, because I believe we have a contract for next year,” said Section II wrestling chairman George Chickanis. “After that, who knows.

“Section II contracts with the Glens Falls Civic Center, and I believe they do it for basketball and wrestling at the same time. I would think all the contracts are valid until they run out.

“The only thing I have any influence on is [Section II president] Wayne Bertrand and explaining to him that the venue is perfect for our wrestling championships. Of course, if they don’t like the price, we could be going somewhere else.”

According to Chickanis, attendance has been consistent in the 4,774-seat building. The tournament moved from a Friday-Saturday schedule to Saturday-Sunday last winter.

“I’ve been doing this since 1991, and the normal Friday attendance is about 1,000,” he said. “It doesn’t vary a lot. Sometimes, it’s 1,200, sometimes it 1,050.

“This past year, we increased our attendance on Saturday as compared to a Friday by 400. When you multiply that by [the admission price of] $6, that’s an extra $2,400 in Section II’s pocket. And we wrestled an extra round on Saturday. For the two days, we were at 1,400-1,500.”

What Chickanis doesn’t want to see is the Civic Center’s new owners pricing themselves out of hosting high school events.

“I started talking with someone [at the Civic Center] when the Flames announced they were coming in, and what would change” he said. “They said probably nothing, until the contracts are up.

“But whoever ends up owning the building need to be careful on what they charge, or they could start losing events.”

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