What's up with the Washington Ave Armory

Washington Ave Armory interior 2017

This week's announcement that the Albany Patroons are making a comeback also represents another step for the Washington Ave Armory.

The historic venue at Washington Ave and Lark Street in Albany effectively shut down for a period in 2015 following an incident at a concert that March in which multiple people were stabbed. It was the last in a series of incidents at music/dance events there in the years leading up to 2015 that prompted concern from city offiials and neighborhood residents about security and crowd control.

The city hit the Washington Ave Armory with a nuisance abatement order after that April 2015 Migos concert that barred the venue from hosting music, DJ, and night club-type events. And the venue surrendered its liquor license later that year.

Since then then the armory has hosted events that include a circus, mixed martial arts bouts, the North American Grappling Association, a beer festival, political rallies, galas, and church events. (It also suffered the defection of the Albany All Stars Roller Derby to the new Albany Capital Center.)

The arena sits 2,380, and has standing room for 4,480.

"We're looking to book events that are, for the most part, family friendly, that enhance the neighborhood as opposed to create chaos and concern after the fact," said Michael Corts, the chief operating officer of the Albany Basketball and Sports Corporation. "We constantly field calls from promoters. But I think the difference now is we want to dig deep, see what events they've done in the past. How is it going to benefit the armory? Is it going to be a concern to our neighbors? Or is it going to bring value and life to downtown."

Washington Ave Armory Albany exterior

Corts said the armory has hosted 40-50 events in 2017. That number, combined with the basketball and rental income from office space, is probably enough to keep the building afloat. But he said they're looking to build on the current roster of events. It's not cheap maintaining a 127-year-old building with almost 40,000 square feet of space.

"We're still working with the city to determine what the future is going to be with regard to concerts," Corts said. "But it's going to be a smaller part of our business model moving forward and into 2018."

The return of the Albany Patroons is a return to the Albany Basketball and Sports Corp's redevelopment plan in the early 2000s as a home for sports. In fact, the interior of the building is still painted in the trademark green and gold of the Patroons.

"The neighborhood wants to see the armory be a successful venue that complements the neighborhood and also brings in a clientele that complements the businesses on Lark Street," said Common Council president pro tem Richard Conti, whose ward borders the armory and includes parts of Center Square and Hudson/Park.

Conti said the armory's ownership has had a good working relationship with city officials over the past two years, and the Patroons comeback is a positive sign for the direction for the venue. And he said the return of concerts to the venue isn't out of the question.

One key step for the armory is to get its liquor license back. Corts said the venue's been working toward doing so, and the hope is to have it in time for the start of the basketball season.

Comments

It wouldn't have been so bad if they just had a beer and wine license in the past.

The Armory would be a great host site for the home games for the smaller local colleges (like St. Rose, SAGE colleges or the Albany College of Pharmacy), or as an arena for Regional play for High School ball....or in coordination with Bob Belber at the TU for use as a NCAA practice gym.....
Or as a venue for events that are too big for WAMC's Linda, but too small for the TU Center

just a thought

Glad to hear semi pro basketball coming back to the Armory.

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