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Still no deal to renew Albany Cup rivalry

Still no deal to renew Albany Cup rivalry

Schools' athletic directors expect to meet before Thanksgiving
Still no deal to renew Albany Cup rivalry
There is still no deal in place to renew the UAlbany-Siena rivalry.
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

ALBANY — During his program’s media day event Thursday, University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown highlighted several key matchups within his team’s non-conference schedule. 

One he did not mention was the Great Danes’ game against Siena for the Albany Cup. 

Brown said there no malice intended behind not referencing the game between the crosstown rivals.

“I take the Siena game for granted just because it’s a given on the schedule,” Brown said.

Then, he caught himself.

“At least,” Brown said, “for this year.”

The Albany Cup has been contested every year since the 2001-02 season between Siena’s and UAlbany’s men’s and women’s basketball programs. Beyond this year’s games on Dec. 9 at Times Union Center, though, there is no agreement in place to continue the series. In 2015, the programs reached a three-year deal to continue the series, which included last year’s first-ever series' trip to UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena.

Last year, the games’ shift to SEFCU Arena was a point of contention between Brown and Siena men’s head coach Jimmy Patsos. Brown’s argument is that the series should continue as a home-and-home event. Patsos has said the game should move back permanently to Times Union Center, Siena’s home court, which has greater seating capacity. This year’s games at Times Union Center feature a split arena in terms of ticket purchasing.

With no agreement in place for the game in 2018, Brown said he recently reached out to Patsos.

“I reached out to Jimmy Patsos to lock in a date, even though no facility has been agreed upon, just so we can lock in a date for the game,” Brown said. “He texted me back and said he was putting everything in the hands of his athletic director, John D’Argenio.”

At his team’s media event Friday, Patsos reiterated that stance.

“That’s with John D’Argenio and Mark Benson,” Patsos said. “This is the last year of the three-year deal, but, you know, look, it’s one of the greatest games.”

Benson and D’Argenio each said Friday they have had informal communication about renewing the series and plan to have a more formal negotiation session about the future of the Albany Cup before Thanksgiving.

D’Argenio said he would not approach upcoming negotiations with the mindset that playing at SEFCU Arena is a non-starter for Siena.

“We’re going to go into it with an open mind,” D’Argenio said.

Benson said that’s true on his side, too.

“We have an open mind and they have an open mind,” Benson said. “What we all agree on is it’s a fantastic rivalry. . . . “I think [the current agreement] was a really great and big step forward. I think we all agree it’s a great rivalry, great for Capital Region fans, and I was encouraged by the last contract.”

Patsos said Friday he was not going to discuss whether the series needs to continue exclusively at Times Union Center.

“Yeah, I kind of used my opinion up the last time,” Patsos said.

Brown, though, did offer his take.

“Nothing would surprise me,” Brown said. “My expectation is that the game next year is in the SEFCU Arena. That’s my expectation and we’ll see what happens.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter. 

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