When Glens Falls lost the State Boys Basketball Tournament three years ago, it was a shocker.
The event was nearly a rite of spring in the area, having been played in Glens Falls since 1981. The move to Binghamton, which came after the New York State Public High School Athletic Association voted to override the recommendation of the State Boys Basketball Committee, ended 36 continuous years of play at what was then called the Civic Center.
Local organizers were stunned, but vowed to regroup and bring it back.
“When we lost it three years ago, we had to figure out how we could get better,” said Chip Corlew, who led the effort to bring the tournament back.
After Glens Falls cleared two big hurdles on Friday, there’s a very good chance the State Boys Basketball Tournament will return to the city.
The State Boys Basketball Committee and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s staff both recommended that Glens Falls get the tournament for a three-year period starting in 2020. Binghamton, the current host, and Albany also put in bids for the tournament.
The NYSPHSAA Executive Committee will take a final vote on Feb. 1. Traditionally, the executive committee approves bids that are recommended by both that sport’s committee and the NYSPHSAA staff.
“I’m happy,” said Corlew, the Glens Falls High School athletic director. “We know it still has to go to the executive committee for a final vote, but our committee is excited to have made it to this point.”
Three years ago, the State Boys Basketball Committee recommended Glens Falls retain the tournament, but the NYSPHSAA staff recommended Binghamton. The NYSPHSAA Executive Committee later voted 14-8 to award the three-year contract to Binghamton starting in 2017.
Corlew said the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition offered a rent-free contract as part of its latest bid. He also said, while not wanting to provide a number, that the Warren County supervisors were very supportive financially to the bid.
In the bidding process three years ago, Binghamton provided a zero rental fee, while Glens Falls’ bid contained a rental fee of $12,500.
“That helped a lot,” Corlew said of the Coalition’s zero rental fee. Corlew also mentioned the Coalition’s final updating of all the locker rooms as helping.
“They made it one of their priorities of getting it back,” Corlew said of the state tournament. “It was a team effort and we’re really pleased. Our committee, the 70-plus volunteers, the city, the businesses, there are a lot of people that are excited. We’re close, we’re not there yet, but we’re pleased.”
Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA’s executive director, said it was a difficult decision, but noted how critical it is that the sport’s committee and he and his staff are on the same page.
“It was a more competitive bid from a financial standpoint from Glens Falls,” Zayas said, “and the work that the arena has done on its facilities the last four years is certainly being recognized with these recommendations.”
Corlew said he was not surprised that Albany’s Times Union Center bid on the tournament.
“It’s such a big event,” Corlew said. “They obviously know how to run tournaments, and Binghamton too. I think it’s good for the process.”
Corlew specifically thanked Jeff Mead, Cool Insuring Arena’s general manager, and George Normandin, a Glens Falls committee member who is CEO of his own marketing and advertising firm in Glens Falls, for their hard work.
“We’re excited,” Zayas said. “It’s a great thing for Glens Falls and good for our state bidding process that every interested community has an equal and fair chance.”
Corlew said Glens Falls also hopes to keep the Federation Tournament of Champions, with bids due in December. Cool Insuring Arena has the contract to host the Federation tournament through 2019. If both bids are successful, the building would be hosting back-to-back weekends of state basketball, as it did from 1987 to 2010.
The State Boys Basketball Tournament features the semifinals and finals for teams in five classes that play in the NYSPHSAA. The Federation tournament brings together boys and girls champions from the NYSPHSAA, New York City and two private organizations to play for overall state titles in three classes.