UConn BB coming to the Webster Bank Arena

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There is no signed contract – yet — but get ready to circle a January date on your calendar UConn fans, it looks like the Huskies are coming to the Webster Bank Arena.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball team are expected to play one game each at the WBA in 2013-14 – likely an American Athletic Conference game – bringing the Huskies to Fairfield County for a regular season game for the first time in each program’s history.
The game will likely be played while the students are away for Christmas break and could also be played on the same day as part of a separate admission, with the women playing an AAC opponent in the afternoon and the men taking on their AAC foe in the evening.
The WBA has been in talks with UConn for a while now to try and bring the Huskies in for a game but both sides could only talk due to a “exclusivity clause” in its contract with Hartford’s XL Center, stating that UConn was not allowed to play at any other venue in the state other than the XL and Gampel Pavilion.
Charlie Dowd, the senior vice president of operations at Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, would not comment on the news. A UConn spokesman would also not comment.
Before UConn could talk with the people at the WBA, they had to finalize a new agreement with the XL Center. Apparently a tentative agreement was recently reached.
“We have to ensure what we’re doing with the XL (Center) is set before we know what we’re going to do with any other venues in the state,” UConn athletic director Warde Manuel said just about a week ago. “We’re going to start selling basketball season tickets in August, so we want this (where we are playing) to be resolved ASAP. And everybody’s working on it, so we should have resolution here soon.”
Apparently, that resolution is all but done to bring the Huskies to the WBA.
The Webster Bank Arena recently hosted the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball East regional, the fifth time it has hosted an NCAA women’s tournament, and all five times, UConn has played here. The other East regional was played in 2006 and first and second rounds of the tournament took place at the WBA in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
And for UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, playing a regular season game in Bridgeport makes a lot of sense.
“My own personal opinion is we can sit where we are and have people come to us or we can take another step and go to where they are,” Auriemma said in May at an event here for the Cardinal Shehan Center. “And I’m a firm believer that’s a good way to sell our product. It’s a good way to expose who we are and continue to grow our brand.”
Besides, he likes the city.
“I’ve made quite a lot of friends during my short visits here,” Auriemma said in March at a Swim Across the Sound charity breakfast . “I don’t know this city very well, but I found out by coming down here to play that you didn’t need a passport to get to Bridgeport from Storrs. We’ve made an awful lot of fans here. They’ve made our program feel welcome.”
celsberry@ctpost.com http://Twitter@elsctpost

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