Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Glens Falls could lose NYS boys basketball tournament to Binghamton — again

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

The New York State Public High School boys basketball tournament might depart Glens Falls for Binghamton — again.

“The recommendation from me is that it goes back to Binghamton,” Dr. Robert Zayas, Executive Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, told The Chronicle Thursday.

“The recommendation from the Boys Basketball Committee is that it goes back to Glens Falls,” he acknowledged.

The final decision will be made on Jan. 31 by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee.

Glens Falls hosted the tournament from 1981 to 2016. Binghamton took it from 2017 to 2019. Glens Falls then regained it.

Current discussions are for hosting in the three years from 2025 to 2027.

“Both facilities are comparable,” Dr. Zayas said. “We’re not talking about a difference between Madison Square Garden and a community venue.”

He said the difference for him comes down to “financial terms and conditions.”

Under both bids, the NYSPHSAA would not pay to rent the arenas.

But Dr. Zayas said that under Binghamton’s bid, “the State Association will receive $20,000, plus the athletic trainers will be free and we will be able to use our own ticketing platform.”

“So we get to $20,000 before one ticket is sold,” he said. Using the association’s own ticketing platform, “it’d be a net of $25,000 to the State Association.”

He said Glens Falls submitted “a zero bid. And it denotes within the bid that there’s $66,000 — $22,000 per year — is being used to offset venue cost.”

He said it means no money is being paid out directly to the state association.

“That’s the way it was submitted. That’s the way every single committee member interpreted it,” Dr. Zayas said.

“Now,” he says, “after the recommendations were announced, I was told by members of the Glens Falls community that we misinterpreted the bid, that it should have read that a net $22,000 to the State Association.”

“But that’s not what the bid says,” Dr. Zayas said firmly.

“I can’t go back now and allow Glens Falls to clarify or enhance their bid after the recommendations were announced.”

He said to do so would create “chaos.”

If the Glens Falls bid is not “enhanced,” Dr. Zayas said, “it’s about a $25,000 difference in favor of Binghamton” per year.

If the bid were “enhanced,” as Dr. Zayas said Glens Falls seeks, he said it would be about a $3,000 difference per year in favor of Binghamton.

Arthur “Chip” Corlew represents the GGFAACA (Greater Glens Falls Amateur Athletics Championships Association, Inc.) that submitted Glens Falls’s bid.

“They really misread our bid,” he told The Chronicle Thursday evening. “We had a better contract than they did, so we feel good about it.”

Mr. Corlew contends the state association does better financially under Glens Falls’s bid.

In a Sept. 15, 2023 letter to NYSPHSAA Assistant Director Joe Altieri, Mr. Corlew wrote: “The Greater Glens Falls Amateur Athletics Championships Association, Inc. has been informed that Warren County Tourism Occupancy Tax will contribute $22,000 per year for a total of $66,000 to the 2025-2027 Boys Basketball State Championships. This effort is to offset the arena rental for the duration of the tournament 2025-2027.”

Mr. Corlew says that the tournament has been paying no rent to use the Cool Insuring Arena, so this additional  $22,000 a year benefits the NYPHSAA.

He expresses optimism based on “our bid — plus we have done it for so many years, along with the shops and the restaurants and the museums and all the other stuff we bring to the table. It’s a no -brainer. They tried it in Binghamton before and it just didn’t work.”

Mr. Corlew went on, “The more I talk about it, the angrier I get — because I’m so passionate about Glens Falls and to have it be about money — we obviously are better. And then to downplay what we’ve done, and what the Coalition has done to improve that arena, and all the nuances and how it considerably failed at Binghamton. Considerably failed.”

Dr. Zayas said, “I think Glens Falls does an absolutely wonderful job hosting the event. They really do. The amount of pride and passionate enthusiasm that the community has for the State Basketball Championships is wonderful.

“I have great relationships with the venue, I have great relationships with a lot of people that volunteer.

“But all that has to be put aside when the bids are submitted. And the information is presented in the bid that must be examined.”

Dr. Zayas said, “If the executive committee wants to allow the bid enhancement, that’s within their ability to do that, if that’s what they want to do, but I haven’t heard of that request being made. So that’s where we are at this point in time.”

Dr. Zayas said for some tournaments, NYSPHSAA pays to rent the venues.

“For the State Football Championships we’re paying north of $65,000 for the Carrier Dome [in Syracuse.] We pay $82,000 for MVP Arena [in Albany] for the Wrestling State Championship.s

“So when we can save money, that is something we are certainly interested in doing,” he said.

“We spend $430,000 a year on venue costs for state championship events,” Dr. Zayas said. “So a lot of people will say you operate on a $3-million budget, what’s $25,000, right?

“Well, it becomes a big deal when we examine bids, and if we can save $25,000 in one bid, and we can save $10,000 in another, when we save $5,000 in another — well, then that ultimately adds up.”

“We’re spending membership money. So I take it very seriously,” Dr. Zayas said.

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