Section 1 surprised nearly everyone when it announced that the Section 1 Boys and Girls Basketball Championships would not be held at the Westchester County Center. The games will be played at Pace University’s Goldstein Athletics Center. There is not yet a venue set for the semifinals, but according to Lohud they will be played at neutral sites based upon the teams competing.
The consensus from Section 1 that financial reasons caused the move, but one county official quoted in Lohud said the county offered to lower its fee.
Pace holds roughly 2,400 people while the County Center’s seating capacity is 4,000. With an offer from the county to lower the already discounted rate, it’s a little bit of a head scratcher to wonder how the Section will make money with 1,600 fewer available seats each session.
Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of the Westchester County Parks Department, said Section 1 made a pure business decision.
“They have changed their format regarding the four counties they represent and made a business decision,” Tartaglia said, as quoted in Lohud. “We had discussions and offered to lower our already discounted use of the County Center.” The county planned on hosting the event in 2018, but its communication with Section 1 was not returned.
Section 1 Executive Jennifer Simmons has come under fire for this decision, with people around the section saying this decision was a power move. The decision was announced without alerting any of the Section 1 Athletic Directors prior, and according to Lohud, members of the Section 1 Athletic Council said they were cut out of the process after a September meeting between the Council, Simmons and now-outgoing County Executive Rob Astorino.
A group of Athletic Directors is at- tempting arrange for some of the Championship Week games to be played at the famed County Center, but the Section 1 Finals are likely locked in at Pace.
There has been signi cant backlash against the decision to move the games, the way it was announced and the reasons given for the move. Coaches, players, local writers and parents have slammed the move, saying that moving the games from the County Center takes away from the importance of the games. While the teams are still playing for the same hardware, the points from the community are valid. Players, coaches and fans alike look forward to basketball season and hope they get a chance to travel to the County Center to play or spectate.
The Section 1 Boys Basketball Championships have been held at the County Center since 1993, and the Girls Championships have been held there since 1999. The championships are interwoven with the building and Lohud writer Josh Thomson said Section 1 is particularly tone deaf in its proclaimed belief that championships are equally as special no matter the venue. The fact of the matter is, though, that if I were to survey local players, coaches and fans, that couldn’t be further from the truth.