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No UAlbany games at sports themed Damien’s

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The 39 televisions in the newly-opened campus center restaurant Damien’s cannot currently display UAlbany sports events, despite the university’s hope for the space to garner support for their athletic teams.

The majority of UAlbany’s games are only broadcast online through ESPN3, a web subscription service, or on the university or the conference’s websites as free streams. The TVs in Damien’s currently only broadcast satellite channels, meaning UAlbany games are few and far between.

“We have further problems in the sense that if it’s streaming, I don’t want to take up the Wi-Fi there,” said UAS director of marketing and communications Michelle Bowen. “So now I have to work with the school to see if I could get either a separate bandwidth or a hardwired connection.”

“It’s just figuring out how to do it without tapping into the Wi-Fi in the campus center, which is already limited.”

Last month, assistant athletic director of external affairs Charlie Voelker highlighted the possible benefit a UAlbany-sports-themed restaurant could have for athletics.

“We’re hoping to engage our students so that someday when you guys graduate and you leave, you buy your season tickets,” said Voelker. “If you start watching games with your buddies at the new Damien’s then hopefully you become a more engaged fan. And that’s what we want our students to do.”

UAlbany athletics can only afford to produce video for a limited number of its sixteen sports.

As part of its contract with the America East conference, UAlbany broadcasts all its men’s and women’s basketball games, plus select football and soccer games, over ESPN3.

America East provides funding for some video equipment, but each additional broadcast can cost UAlbany athletics thousands of dollars in payroll and other expenses.

“If we had the budget to do more this year we would,” said Voelker. “But we’re only budgeted for so much this year, that’ll change next year, and so on.”

Voelker said that athletics streams as many home games as they can over their own website or America East’s site. However, since ESPN3 holds the rights to all the university’s basketball games, they cannot legally stream them online independently of ESPN3.

At the beginning of February, University Auxiliary Services officials gave a different reason for Damien’s not being able to play UAlbany games.

Michelle Bowen said then that ESPN3 did not allow users to broadcast their content in a commercial setting. A member of ESPN’s public relations team told the Albany Student Press Wednesday that this was not the case.

Bowen clarified Thursday that the restaurant’s satellite provider, DirectTV, could not provide them with a ‘commercial package’ including ESPN3.

However, Bowen said that this is not a concern anymore, as she discovered that anyone can access ESPN3’s content over a school network.

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Joe Hoffman is the managing editor for the Albany Student Press.

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