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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Interview: Belber’s 30-Year Impact on MVP Arena’s Success

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ALBANY – Bob Belber, the son of a commercial fisherman from Montauk, has been the driving force behind the success of the MVP Arena for the last 30 years. His dedication and hard work have made the 15,000-seat entertainment venue a staple in the Albany community.

Belber has brought a diverse range of events to the arena, from legendary concerts to thrilling sports games. The arena has hosted iconic artists such as Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Elton John, Celine Dion, the Rolling Stones, Cher, and Bruce Springsteen. It has also been home to the Siena College men’s basketball team and has hosted NCAA basketball tournaments and men’s hockey Frozen Fours.

Under Belber’s leadership, the arena has thrived, generating record-breaking profits and providing unforgettable experiences for fans and performers alike. His dedication to the arena and the community has earned him the title of Business Executive of the Year in 2016 by the Albany Business Review.

As Belber celebrates his 30th anniversary at the arena, he reflects on the changes and improvements that have taken place over the years. The arena has seen technological advancements, with new scoreboards and ribbon boards enhancing the fan experience.

Working for a municipally owned building has its challenges, but Belber has built strong relationships with the county legislators and executive, ensuring that the arena continues to thrive. His efforts have also led to successful bids for hosting NCAA events, with plans to secure more events in the future.

Belber credits the support of the county and the continuous investments in the arena for its success. The recent renovations of concession stands, sports bars, and suites have further enhanced the arena’s appeal.

Looking ahead, Belber is optimistic about the arena’s future, especially after the success of hosting UConn’s national championship win. He remains committed to bringing top-tier events to the arena and showcasing Albany as a premier entertainment destination.

Belber’s dedication and passion for the MVP Arena have made it a beloved institution in Albany, and his legacy will continue to shape its future for years to come.

Bringing Big Opponents to the Arena

One of the keys to staying on the radar of the NCAA is to bring in big opponents for non-conference games early in the season. This not only excites the fanbase but also attracts attention from major broadcasters like ESPN. I’ve been in talks with athletic directors from Siena and UAlbany to make this happen. The idea of hosting a doubleheader with the UConn men and women’s teams has been discussed, and it’s something that I believe will keep the NCAA’s attention on our building in a favorable way.

Staffing and Technology

With 36 full-time employees and 550 part-time staff, our team is crucial to the success of the arena. The commitment and dedication of our staff, some of whom have been with us for over 20 years, are what allows us to provide top-notch customer service and ensure that our events run smoothly. Additionally, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the fan experience through technology, such as enhancing digital antenna service, cellular service, and wifi.

Impact of Tenants and Events

Having Siena play their home games at our arena has had a huge impact on our success. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership that has been favorable for both parties. Additionally, the decision to host the MAAC Tournament in Atlantic City for the next three years was a respectful move, considering the financial impact of the pandemic on the city.

Supporting Staff During Tough Times

The pandemic was a challenging time for us, and we had to make tough decisions, including furloughing the majority of our staff. However, we found ways to support our team, such as auctioning off backstage passes and using the proceeds to provide gift cards to our furloughed employees. It was a small gesture, but it meant a lot to us.

Community Support

Ultimately, the success of our arena is thanks to the support of our community. Our diverse and culture-minded residents are the reason we are able to continue bringing in exciting events that people respond to. We are proud of our market, our people, and our fans.

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Beckett Nielson
Beckett Nielson
Transitioning from a collegiate athlete to a sports journalist, Beckett O’Neal channels his passion for sports into engaging stories. A Boston College graduate, Beckett specializes in local sports coverage, from high school heroes to regional professional teams, providing in-depth analysis and an athlete's insight.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. The previous comments are:

    MysticMeadow: Great interview! Belber’s contributions to MVP Arena’s success over the past 30 years are truly remarkable.

    StarlightGazer91:

    Agree. Belber’s long-term dedication and accomplishments at MVP Arena have clearly played a significant role in its success.

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