Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sights and sounds from HSBC Arena - on the eve of the NCAA's

The Pitt Panthers had their big contingent in the stands to watch their boys practice Wednesday night

Yep we did score one credential and parking pass, thanks to our affiliation with Sports and Leisure Magazine. Full press access at our disposal!

Coach Mike Krzyzewski spent the entire Duke practice time along the sidelines, talking to the fans and signing autographs

Man oh man Buffalo is hopping! It is buzzing! And you can feel it in the streets, at the arena, the excitement is all over the TV and the other media.

I got down to the arena late this afternoon to pick up my credential and check out the lay of the land. It is amazing how totally organized and well put together the entire function is. The bowels of the arena have been transformed into a small city... the media dining/work room is now just a giant "hospitality room" with food service going seemingly all the time. Then of course all four auxiliary locker rooms are in use for the teams; the afternoon teams will have to clear out so the evening guys can come in. That ground floor windowed open space fronting Main Street is the media center, with hundreds of tabled positions for writers. Immediately adjacent is the postgame interview room. CBS has their own "hospitality suite" and they get their own cool media credential, to separate them from us grunts I guess. Then there are lounge areas and dressing areas for the bands and the cheerleaders. Directional signage is posted all over the place. It is all very impressive.

I did chow down a bit (beef on weck and wings on the menu yummy!) and headed out onto the court, to find Duke doing their practice, and Coach K was nowhere near his players. Instead he was along the boards, signing autographs and greeting fans, and of course the throng of media was eating all that up. Very nice!

I caught up with Kevin Sylvester, who we all know as Sabres studio host but also handles marketing for the NCAA events, one of the many hats he wears. He was beaming from ear to ear... everything going good so far Kev! I also ran into Ron Bertovich, former Exec VP for the Sabres during the Adelphia years; he is now Deputy Commissioner for the Colonial Athletic Association. Ron was an integral part of the USRT success when we were at it at full throttle, so always props to him.

Also props to our good friend and colleague Mike Harrington, who is doing a great job blogging on the News' College Hoopla site. Mike is with the Purple Eagles, went to Dayton and is now on his way to Chicago for the Friday subregional there and we have also been emailing with Mike back and forth to get the latest scoop on things. We will miss seeing him on the sidelines tomorrow... if Niagara loses, he'll be here for Saturday's sessions. So let's say this right now... have fun in Chicago for Niagara's Round 2 game Sunday Mike!

So it all starts tomorrow... the long awaited day long marathon of basketball; sharing with our group of good friends all the magical moments, feeling the energy of the students, the colorful pageantry, the electricity on the streets of downtown... it's like Christmas, your birthday, the 4th of July and the feast at the end of Ramadan all rolled into one!

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