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EDITORIAL: A homecoming full of hoopla

2010-12-04T23:45:00Z 2011-08-26T10:59:16Z EDITORIAL: A homecoming full of hoopla Glens Falls Post-Star
December 04, 2010 11:45 pm

There was no deafening roar of thousands of screaming fans, only the sound of squeaking sneakers and the echo of basketballs bouncing off waxed hardwood.

There were no pom-pom waving cheerleaders. No TV cameras. No NBA scouts jotting notes on a clipboard. No adoring masses waiting for an autograph. None of the trappings of Division I college basketball.

Just an unassuming 21-year-old in a darkened high school gym and a handful of boys in shorts and T-shirts, hanging on his every word.

This is not the Jimmer Fredette that most people will see this week, the kid with the killer jump shot from little ol' Glens Falls, teaching fundamentals to a group of local kids during a visit home.

What we are being treated is the nationwide sports sensation that he has become. The college All-American. The smooth, gifted shooting guard that the best of his peers can't seem to stop. The NBA's next big thing.

For Glens Falls, Wednesday night's basketball game at the Glens Falls Civic Center between the BYU Cougars and the University of Vermont Catamounts is shaping up to be one of the biggest events in the arena's 30-year history.

Officially, the game has been dubbed the "Hometown Classic." But everyone in town is calling it simply, "the Jimmer game."

There are many people who deserve credit for the event. Mayor Jack Diamond got the ball rolling back in February by sending an unsolicited letter to BYU's college president, athletic director, men's basketball coach and director of basketball operations inquiring about whether it would be possible to get Jimmer's team to play in or near Glens Falls.

The university was open to the idea, as colleges apparently like to occasionally schedule games so their stars can play in front of their hometown fans. It was a long shot, but the mayor figured why not go for it. There were some bumps along the way. There was the task of finding a team to play. There was the problem of finding an open date during the college basketball season. There was the issue of whether Glens Falls could handle a Division 1 basketball game, typically played in large arenas. The Glens Falls Civic Center, with a capacity of 6,200, holds less than half the 14,000 fans that the Cougars draw for home games.

But ticket prices for the Glens Falls game are much more expensive than BYU fans pay for their home games.

The Times Union Arena in Albany, which seats more than 15,000, almost snagged the game, but Disney On Ice was already booked for the proposed date, and other issues arose.

In the meantime, city leaders

including Mayor Diamond, Councilman-at-Large Dan Hall, Councilman Ben Driscoll, city Economic Development Director Ed Bartholomew and high school basketball tournament organizer Doug Kenyon all kept persisting, working with the Civic Center's management team, Global Spectrum, and helping secure an opponent suitable for BYU.

BYU, for its part, told city officials it really wanted to get Jimmer a game in his hometown and wasn't worried about making money on the game.

That gave the city the financial break it needed. The city agreed to cover any losses from the event, but hoped to at least break even on ticket sales. As of last week, all seats and most of the standing-room tickets had been sold.

But this is more than about making money. The dollars will work themselves out. And it's more than just a basketball game. This will give the city and the Civic Center unprecedented national exposure. It will help show off our vibrant new downtown at the peak of its Hometown holiday best. It will present Glens Falls as a viable location for other major events. It will be an economic kick in the pants that few other events could ever provide.

The success will be due in no small part to the many people behind the scenes who pushed to bring this event to Glens Falls ... and to the unassuming kid with the killer jump shot who never forgot where he came from.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen member Mike Wild.

 

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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