The long-term solution to the Siena-UAlbany game

Where to play the Albany Cup matchup? The best model is the one in place
There is a relatively fair solution to where to play the Albany Cup games between Siena and UAlbany.
There is a relatively fair solution to where to play the Albany Cup games between Siena and UAlbany.

This game should end.

No, not the Siena-UAlbany basketball game. That should go on, obviously.

No, the game around The Game, the one played every two or three years, when the fate of the intra-city rivalry is thrown in doubt over where the two teams should meet.

Siena wants to play all the games at Times Union Center.

UAlbany wants it to be a home-and-home series.

Both sides have a point — which leads to a ritualistic war of words over what is what is right and fair.

The thing is, a fair and relatively equitable solution is staring at all sides. In fact, it’s already in place.

As Michael Kelly noted in a piece Thursday on that ran in Friday’s newspaper, there are no agreed-upon games after Saturday’s matchups between the school’s men’s and women’s programs. The athletic directors met before Thanksgiving, and will again next month. Once again, there is uncertainty around the series resurrected in the Division I era during the 2001-02 season.

Siena is right to say the Times Union Center is a bigger venue and fans casual and otherwise are afforded more access when the intra-city rivals meet downtown. Besides, the arena is the ancestral home of the Albany Cup.

But UAlbany is equally justified in countering a home-and-home slate is a more equitable solution, especially since the programs are not as disparate as when the series started.

So what to do?

Do what they are doing right now: Play a home-and-home, with the third game — like Saturday night’s — being a neutral court affair at Times Union Center. Unlike this year, it does not have to be part of some Gotham Classic or any other tournament. Just make it so.

Neither fan base will be completely sated with the arrangement. Which means it’s a good deal.

Siena fans have to let go of the 1990s mentality they are sole big boys of D-I hoops in town, and the Great Danes should be grateful for any scraps that are thrown their way. Play on the court and banners in the rafters say otherwise — and that doesn’t even get into the women’s side, where UAlbany has the NCAA’s longest conference title streak (six). Simply, UA deserves home games in the series.

Likewise, UAlbany has to acknowledge that Times Union Center offers capacity and other amenities that can’t be matched at SEFCU. For the good of the game and the rivalry, it makes sense to have as many fans as possible  in the seats.

The 1-1-1 format (the gate is split for the neutral court game; home teams would be alternated) addresses the most concerns that are on the table. Neither side totally wins nor loses — except for area college basketball fans.

We score.

The game around The Game has grown to be cyclical, a repetitive exercise in which the same arguments are trotted out every year or so like holiday decorations. It’s grown stale.

End that game. Keep The Game going, and for good.

Reach Executive Sports Editor Mark McGuire at 518-395-3105, [email protected] or @MJMcGuire on Twitter.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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