Harlem Globetrotters continue tradition at TUC

Kyle Garrett, Staff Writer

The Harlem Globetrotters played at the Times Union Center on Sunday, Feb. 2, performing in front of an estimated 6500 fans as part of the 2014 “Fans Rule” tour.

The barnstorming team, which has existed in its current form since 1929, has visited Albany and played at the TUC annually for the past 24 years. The arena has had a relationship with the Globetrotters almost since it was built. Visits to Albany are built into the team’s tour schedule at about the same time every year when they know they’ll be in the Northeast. For the past three years, as it was fallen on the same Sunday as the Super Bowl.

Hosting the game on Super Bowl Sunday has been well-received, with the first year it was done setting a record for attendance. Times Union Center assistant general manager, Doug McClaine, attributes this to the efficiency of the event, referring to the Globetrotters and their staff as a “fine-tuned machine.”

“The game is at one o’clock, and you are packed up and out of here by three-thirty. That includes the game, autograph session, merchandise, everything,” said McClaine. “Everybody’s home in time to watch the kickoff.”

Part of the efficiency of the event is due to the ease of preparation. All the arena needed to provide was a basketball floor. The Globetrotters took care of the rest, bringing their own signage and equipment but sending a technical writer ahead of time to help arena staff deal with their needs.

After that was seen to, the event largely took care of itself according to McClaine, who said the Globetrotters “[roll] in, [play] the game and roll out.”

Siena graduate Tay Fisher being on the team improved local interest.

“It’s always nice to have an event that has a local tie,” said McClaine. “It seems to put more interest for both the fans and the marketing that goes with the event.”

For the most part, the way the game and event went was typical for Globetrotter visits thus far, but what distinguishes the Globetrotters and their more theatrical approach from more serious basketball in McClaine’s mind is the fan interaction.

The Globetrotters involve everyone in the arena in the game, bringing fans onto the court during time outs to learn how to spin a ball or perform comedy skits, and as part of the show the fans in attendance aren’t so much spectators as participants, somewhat akin to the difference between a film and live theatre.

“[It’s like] if you’re watching a movie as opposed to a live comedian who is going to deal with the hecklers and interact with the crowd,” said McClaine.

Another difference is that the final outcome is usually a foregone conclusion and isn’t really the point of the game. The Globetrotters have only had a handful of defeats, most famously in a match against the Washington Generals in 1962 and most recently in 2006 against the NABC College All-Stars.

 

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