Schenectady County Community College’s basketball teams may have a homeless homecoming next week.
They may not have a home court at all, provided the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs follows through with plans to mothball the armory off Washington Avenue on Monday.
The military announced Friday it will cease all “shows and community events” now hosted at the building to save up to $70,000 in heating and lighting costs over the winter.
The move could leave the Royals, men and women, out in the cold. The men’s team has 13 home games scheduled at the armory through February while the women have 12.
National Guard spokesman Eric Durr said the money squeeze is in response to Gov. David Paterson’s call for reducing the deficit. Durr said the $30,000 the college pays to use the armory for its basketball teams doesn’t cover the operational cost of a building that no longer serves any function for the military.
“It’s not our mission in life to maintain buildings we don’t need,” he said. “The governor told us to save money and we simply can’t afford to pay for a building that doesn’t serve a military purpose.”
The military will transfer the building to the state Office of General Services, which will sell the 83,000-square-foot structure at auction next year.
Now the military is no longer interested in leasing space to the college once their agreement ends Monday.
“It’s up to [Military Affairs] to decide what they want to do with the building,” said OGS spokesman Brad Maione.
That means both the men’s and women’s teams will likely need to find new courts for home games scheduled Thursday evening. Spokeswoman Heather Meaney said the college is still hopeful to extend an agreement to use the Armory, which has hosted SCCC basketball games for nearly 38 years.
“We’d love to stay in there,” she said. “If that’s not possible, we’ll have to look at some alternatives.”
Calls placed to David Gonzalez, the college’s athletic director, were not returned Friday.
County and college officials have discussed ways they could partner to acquire the building in advance of the public auction. The state will typically offer surplus property to other governmental entities first.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority and a trustee of the college, said there is still interest in the building at the county level.
“We need time to get in there to look if the building makes sense for us,” he said. “The county cannot rush into a conveyance of this building.”
The Guard’s 206th Military Police Company and 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion left the armory vacant in August. Both units were moved around the Capital Region because the 72-year-old armory no longer met their needs and was too expensive to maintain; military officials estimate the building costs more than $96,000 in annual upkeep.
Durr said the college was well aware of the Guard’s intentions to leave the building. In mid-October, he said the Guard notified the college that its agreement to use the building wouldn’t be extended.
“Only today did we get a response to that letter,” he said Friday.
Gillen said the county had previously discussed an arrangement to lift operating costs from the military. An option would have created a master lease for the building to be shared by several recreational groups.
However, Gillen said the Guard found such an agreement “too cumbersome” and the plan was eventually scrapped. At the time, he said, the military seemed inclined to continue the agreement with the college.
“We understand their fiscal realities,” he said. “But even when we proposed something that would have covered their operational costs they rejected it.”