“It was, media wise, the biggest event to take place in years and years,” said Times Union Center General Manager Bob Belber.
After years of construction, Albany’s Knickerbocker Arena opened with a star-studded affair in February 1990.
“Frank Sinatra was the biggest name back in that time,” Belber said. “I recall it very well and all of the limousines and the black tie affair that it was.”
In the three decades since, which included not one but two name changes, the arena now known as the Times Union Center kept welcoming big names and other events to the stage.
“I have come to a lot of great concerts that I wanted to see from U2, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney,” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.
“This past year in 2019 we had 19 concerts, 12 of which sold out and the biggest names that were on tour last year we had here,” said Belber.
On Monday morning, local leaders celebrated the building’s 30th anniversary.
“It is a huge accomplishment. If you look at arenas around this country and you see how some have been successful and in a lot of areas they have closed,” said McCoy.
“Over 4,500 events, over 20 million tickets sold over 30 years and a gross operating profit of over $39 million,” said Belber.
Bob Belber has been the center’s general manager for 26 of its 30 years and he believes its size is what attracts the top acts. With 17,000 seats, the TU is the largest secondary market arena on the East Coast.
“Most of the other markets were building 12,000 seat facilities, so for them to build it some 5,000 seats more, that was a gamble back in the day but boy it has paid off,” said Belber.
Following a recent $20 million investment in a new atrium and other upgrades, the Times Union Center is still filling seats and providing a boost to Albany’s economy.
“People are coming to the restaurants in downtown Albany, people staying in hotels in downtown Albany,” said McCoy.
“More importantly I think we have given people great fun and enjoyment for their families, so I feel really good about that,” said Belber.