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CONSOL Scores with NCAA games

Mar 19, 2012


If the NCAA men's basketball tournament games at CONSOL Energy Center were a movie, Steve Orsini would give it four stars. Maybe five.

"Community of Pittsburgh -- Great sports crowd. Sold-out (games) shows the support from the community," Orsini, the Southern Methodist athletic director and member of the tournament committee, wrote in his evaluation to the NCAA.

"CONSOL Energy Center -- Great facility," Orsini continued, praising the work of the management team led by the arena's general manager, Jay Roberts. "Great host school event administration from Duquesne University, led by Greg Amodio (athletic director) and Phil Racicot, associate AD, who served as tournament manager.

"CONSOL Energy Center was designed, you can tell, with events like this in mind. The staff here was fantastic."

The event, hosted by Duquesne, returned to the city 10 years after it was held across the street at Mellon Arena.

CONSOL, opened in 2010 to house the Penguins primarily (Duquesne and Pitt play a few basketball games there), is a state-of-the-art facility with all the required amenities to be a consistent NCAA host.

"The building did a very good job," said NCAA staffer Ron English, who also filed a favorable report. "The people from Duquesne did a very good job. Overall the experience was very good."

Amodio said he received nothing but positive feedback.

"You gain your pleasure from other folks," he said. "All the people who came to the games were very excited and very complimentary. ... My staff did a tremendous job."

Amodio said things went so well that Duquesne would "like to explore the opportunity" of hosting regional semifinals and finals.

Roberts echoed that.

Successfully navigated were the expected challenges -- the St. Patrick's Day parade Downtown on Saturday -- and one that was unexpected -- vice president Joe Biden, the parade marshal, deciding to attend and watch his favorite team. Biden is a 1968 graduate of Syracuse's law school.

Racicot, who worked on the NCAA event since 2009, said he learned about Biden's plans about noon Friday, which did not allow much time to prepare for security and other factors. "But it worked out very well," he said.