The Cross Insurance Center, the home court of the University of Maine women’s basketball team, will host a championship game viewing party at 5 p.m. Friday when the Black Bears play Stony Brook in New York for the America East title.
UMaine seeks its third straight tournament title and a berth to the NCAA Tournament. It is the Black Bears’ fifth consecutive America East championship-game appearance.
The event is free and will include prize giveaways, raffles and other activities. Parking also is free and fans can purchase concessions.
The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and displayed on the Cross Center’s video board.
The UMaine basketball teams began playing at the Cross Insurance Center when it opened in 2013. The Black Bear women have compiled a record of 76-16 at the facility.
First-year Cross Insurance Center General Manager Tony Vail said he has hosted viewing parties at other venues, including Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors used to play, and they have been successful.
“It was such a great event,” said Vail, who was the director of operations at Oracle Arena.
He said it gave people who couldn’t attend a game there for one reason or another an opportunity to be involved in a watch party and support their team.
“It’s about giving the community something new, something different. It gives them another way to support their team,” Vail said. “A lot of people might want to come to our building rather than go to other [viewing party] locations. They will have very easy access here.”
In addition to the regular seating and suites, there will be some seats on the floor.
“Hopefully, going forward, we can work with UMaine and grow it into a big event. We’d like to do it every year, knock on wood,” Vail said.
Vail said the Cross Center will take the necessary precautions stemming from the coronavirus.
“There will be a lot of hand sanitizer. The staff will be wearing gloves. People will be able to keep a distance from other people. If anybody displays flu-like symptoms, we’ll deal with it,” Vail said.
Fans can obtain free tickets online via Ticketmaster.com or pick them up at the Maine Credit Union box office.
Other UMaine watch parties will be held at the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Bangor, Camden, Topsham, and two locations in South Portland; at Buffalo Wild Wings in Bangor, Auburn, Topsham and South Portland; and at the Orono Brewing Company in Orono.