Albany All Stars Roller Derby has a new home

Albany Capital Center multipurpose space basketball court

At the Albany Capital Center ribbon cutting, there was a full-size basketball court set up in the center's big multi-purpose space to show off both the size of the room and its ability to host sporting facilities.

Updated Thursday morning.

The Albany All Stars Roller Derby launches into its 10th season April 15 -- at.a new home.

The All Stars are moving to the new Albany Capital Center.

"It's a huge, beautiful space and we're very excited," said Kimberly Eisen, AKA "Dottie Damage."

The All Stars have skated for many seasons at the Washington Ave Armory. But last year they took on crosstown rivals the Hellions of Troy in a game at the TU Center.

Eisen -- who's one of the league's founders and a member of the board of directors -- said that match was a big success, drawing 2,000 people. And the event opened a relationship between the All Stars and SMG, the company that manages the TU Center Center and the Albany Capital Center.

In talking things over, the two parties decided the TU Center -- which can seat about 15,000 for a sporting event -- is oversized for a typical derby crowd, but the big multi-purpose space on the second floor of the ACC could work. (The space was designed to have flexibility for hosting sports events and practices.)

"We jumped at the opportunity," said Eisen.

The 22,500 square-foot space is covered in carpet, but Eisen said the ACC will be laying down a sport court surface for matches, with tiered seating for about 700 spectators. And the derby will be using the entire space -- what's not covered for the track and stands will be used for concessions, a beer garden, display booths, merch tables, and locker rooms.

Another amenity in the ACC space: The multi-purpose room's LED ceiling, which can be programmed in all sorts of different colors and patterns. Eisen said AASRD has been working with techs at the ACC to customize the lighting for games.

"You never really think about lighting, but it makes a huge difference."

albany capital center ballroom ceiling LED gif
The LED ceiling.

The All Stars have seven games this season at the ACC, and Eisen said they're lined up to be there next year, too. They want this to be the league's new permanent home.

A multipurpose space

The roller derby will be the first sporting event in the upstairs space at the Albany Capital Center. So how easy is it to turn what's essentially a giant carpeted room into a sports venue?

"We're about to find out," Doug McClaine, the general manager of the ACC, said. "The facility was built as a multipurpose facility so this is a great example of some of the things that we can do."

The space has a high ceiling -- 26 feet tall -- so it could theoretically host a variety of different sports. McClaine said the ACC has submitted bids for NCAA fencing and volleyball championships, and it's looking at hosting high school and youth tournaments. The initial challenge is getting people to realize that a "convention center" can provide a venue for these sorts of events -- and the hope is that once a few events are hosted there, word will spread.

"Being able to do different events," he said, "it really gives us an opportunity to show the facility off to everyone in Albany."

McClaine said the ACC is actively recruiting events that would be new to this market, and isn't reaching out to events currently hosted at other venues within the market. But if the organizers of those events approach the ACC... then, sure, they'll talk.

A decade of derby

As mentioned above, the Albany All Stars have been kicking for a decade now -- an accomplishment for any startup sports team.

"Things are great," Eisen said of the state of the skater-owned and -operated org. "We've been very fortunate to be solvent and be here for 10 years."

Part of the reason for the move to the ACC is to help provide a foundation for the next 10 years. As it happens, Albany is within a five-hour travel radius for more than a hundred derby teams, and Eisen said AASRD has been working with SMG to help bring other derby-related events to town, including international competitions, conventions, and to bid for a Women's Flat Track Derby Association championship.

"The big goal is always to make sure we can sustain ourselves as a business," she said.

And that's not necessarily an easy thing in sports, the history of which is filled with leagues and teams -- big and small -- that have gone bust, moved, or fizzled out. But roller derby's grown roots here over the last decade.

"There's something about roller derby that's different from most sports," Eisen said this week while reflecting on the last 10 years and the community connections formed in that time, "and there's a lot of passion here."

The upcoming season

The Albany All Stars play their home opener Saturday, April 15 at the Albany Capital Center against Port City. Tickets are $10 ahead online, $12 at the door, $5 for kids 10 and under.

AASRD will then have one game a month there through October.

And in July, AASRD will head to the Rollarama in Schenectady to again face off with the Hellions of Troy.

This post was updated the morning of March 30 with comments from the Albany Capital Center.
____

Earlier: Gawking at the Albany Capital Center

Comments

Title could also be, "State Government Takes Business Away From Private Venue."

I don't see how taking tenants away from the Armory is a positive thing.

This is a great return on investment for the taxpayers! I remember when they floated the idea of making a library out of the armory...boy would that have been stupid.....you know culture, education and all....so now we have a 70+million dollar center for 2,000 people to watch roller derby.....please tell me this is all a bad dream.....please

'Cuz the Armory is a real downer. Old, poorly lighted, with uncomfortable seats.

Where, exactly, is this venue? Upstairs in the "Pepsi Arena"? They keep changing the name of the arena, so who can keep up?

We stopped going to the armory when drinks could no longer be served. Roller derby and beer go together. The Armory management is to blame for its own troubles.

@Liz Foster: It's the new convention center on Eagle Street, between the TU Center and the ESP.

@BS: you know that the capital center has other uses besides the one mentioned in the article you're currently reading, right?

Sucks for the Armory and nearby businesses. This is a bad move, IMHO. The Armory was a great place to see the Derbies. It had it's warts, but that was part of the charm. Trade show at the CC? Sure, but Roller Derby? Na. Vibe is all wrong.

YES! Roller derby in a convention center.

@PF, spot on. It was great to see the Patroons and roller derby at the Armory, but when they started hosting events that drew unreasonable crowds that trashed residential neighborhoods in the wee hours and then lost their ability to sell beer, well, it's hard to have sympathy.

I have to say I am very disappointed in this decision. Part of the charm was the venue.

That been said it won't stop me from supporting our derby team. I hope the new venue only helps them and look forward to seeing them there.

I also hope the armory succeeds. It's a quirky little space.

I can remember back 10-15years as this project was being floated and how (sm)Albany's dignitaries at the time went to neighboring states whit about the same demographics as Albany and whom had built a similar venue. They were
all money losers. Bring on tiddly winks championships as well as WWF events (sm)Albany, you'll pack the rubes in.

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