Mark Bardack or Caitlin Merrill
Ed Lewi Associates
P: (518) 383-6183
E: or

"Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest" to serve as inaugural event at Albany Capital Center


Event to celebrate return of MAAC Basketball Championships to downtown Albany, March 2-6 
Aerobatic Dunk Team, presented by Pioneer Bank, to perform during fan festivities. 
Advance discount tickets on sale beginning Wednesday, February 1


ALBANY, NY; January 30, 2017 - The Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Albany Convention Center Authority and SMG invite fans to celebrate the return of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Men's and Women's Basketball Championships to downtown Albany with the second annual Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest on Friday, March 3 at the Albany Capital Center from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

The popular fan festival will serve as the inaugural event at the much-anticipated Albany Capital Center, the new state-of-the-art convention center.

"We were overwhelmed by the community's response to last year's first-ever Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest, and we are delighted to bring the event back to downtown Albany in celebration of the MAAC Basketball Championships," said Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Michele Vennard. "We are honored to serve as the first event for the heralded new Albany Capital Center as it officially opens its doors to the public. The facility is sure to be a tremendous addition to downtown Albany."

During the pre-game event, fans will have the opportunity to sample gourmet mac-n-cheese dishes from a dozen Albany-area restaurants; as well as multiple varietals of craft beer from New York breweries.

Tickets for the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will be available online at for $8 beginning Wednesday, February 1. Tickets entitle guests to 10 tastings of any combination of mac-n-cheese or craft beer. Tickets will be available at the door on Friday, March 3 for $10.

This year's festivities will feature the Air Elite Dunkers, the official dunk team for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors. The high-flying entertainers will showcase their aerobatic skills in a pair of 20-minute performances during the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest at the Albany Capital Center. The Air Elite Dunkers are presented by Pioneer Bank. Also, the Siena men's basketball court will be relocated from the Times Union Center to the Albany Capital Center for the event.

Other entertainment will include performances by MAAC school pep bands; basketball-themed inflatables; face painting; a balloon artist; and music.

"Hannaford is excited to once again be a part of this outstanding event, which will not only serve as the signature fan attraction of the MAAC Basketball Championships, but also the inauguration of such an anticipated facility in downtown Albany," said Hannaford Supermarkets Community Relations Specialist Brian Fabre. "We encourage both basketball and mac-n-cheese fans to join us for a fun evening to kick off the tournament and celebrate the opening of the Albany Capital Center."

A portion of proceeds will benefit the Times Union Hope Fund which serves children in need throughout the Capital Region.

Times Union Senior Writer and Table Hopping Columnist Steve Barnes will emcee the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest, which will include a People's Choice Award for the restaurant which serves the crowd's favorite mac-n-cheese. The Table Hopping blog and are the title sponsors of the Mac-n-Cheese Bowl created at the suggestion of a Table Hopping reader. The eighth event, featuring mac-n-cheese from 30 Capital Region restaurants, is scheduled for February 18 at Siena College in Loudonville.

Sponsors of the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest include Hannaford Supermarkets, Berkshire Bank, Upstate Ford, NYSCOPBA, Pioneer Bank and Dunkin' Donuts. Additional funding to host and promote the MAAC Basketball Tournament was provided from Empire State Development/ I LOVE NY, which was awarded through the Regional Economic Development Council awards.

The Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will supplement the MAAC Basketball Championships featuring men's and women's teams from Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, St. Peter's University, and Siena College.

"The MAAC is excited to be back in downtown Albany, and we are thrilled that our tournament will be part of the official opening of the Albany Capital Center," said MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. "The Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest is the perfect opportunity for attendees to sample the best food and drink from local restaurants and breweries amongst fellow basketball fans."

"This year's tournament has the potential to be one of the most exciting in recent memory with no clear cut favorite to capture the title," said Times Union Center General Manager Bob Belber. "The Times Union Center is proud to host the MAAC Basketball Championships for a record 18th time, and we look forward to demonstrating once again why no one does it better than Albany in staging this historic and multifaceted event."

Flex ticket packages are currently available for the MAAC Basketball Championships. Flex ticket packages include four tickets redeemable for any open seat during any session of the MAAC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships, including both championship games. The tickets may be utilized for four seats to one session, one seat for four sessions, or any ensuing combination to enable fans to tailor the tournament experience to meet their needs.

Two sets of flex ticket packages, each comprised of four tickets, are available for this year's tournament. The first package provides access to any open seat during any session and is $150. The second package provides access to any open seat in the lower level corners and end zones and is $100.

All-session passes are also available for fans seeking admission to additional games in the MAAC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships. All-session passes, which grant access to all 20 games of the men's and women's tournament, are $97, $122, $167 and $227.

Flex ticket packages and all-session passes may be purchased at the arena box office, charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at

Individual tournament tickets will be available for purchase beginning Monday, February 6.

For a complete tournament schedule, visit

The Capital Complex in Albany is the largest meeting space in upstate New York. Connected by an enclosed walkway, the Complex is comprised of the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, a 50,000 sq. ft. facility that includes a convention hall, seven meeting rooms and pre-function space operated by the New York State Office of General Services; The Egg, which includes two theaters that seat a total of 1400 people along with 10,000 square feet of event space; and two locations operated by SMG including the new Albany Capital Center, a 50,000 sq. ft. space with six meeting rooms and pre-function space; and the Times Union Center, upstate New York's premier sports and entertainment facility with 17,500 seats and 50,000 sq. ft. of exhibit and pre-function space.