It's official: the men's and women's basketball teams will play one regular-season game in Bridgeport this season. The men will face Eastern Washington on Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.
“It’s a wonderful moment for our program,” said coach Kevin Ollie said, via the Hartford Courant. “We look forward to coming to Bridgeport. My mother-in-law lives here, my wife went to Kolbe-Cathedral. My ties here are very long, and when the athletic department announced this, I got a lot of ticket requests.”
Ollie welcomes the opportunity to bring the Huskies to other parts of the state.
“That’s what we want to do, respecting our team, respecting our game and also respecting these great, great fans in the State of Connecticut,” Ollie said. “… We just want to bring our spirit and also thank them for the support. Some of the people can’t drive up to Storrs, can’t drive to Hartford, and to have it here right around the corner, they can come here and see the Husky spirit, see our fans integrate themselves into Husky Pride.”
University president Susan Herbst added in a statement: "Fairfield County is home to our Stamford campus and is critical to the University as we continue to grow, achieve our goals, and serve the entire state of Connecticut. We're thrilled to bring UConn basketball to Bridgeport to enhance our presence in the area and contribute to the city."
Bridgeport, meanwhile, sounds just as ecstatic.
"This is a historic moment for Huskies basketball and Webster Bank Arena," Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment president Howard Saffan said. "We look forward to a long, successful partnership in the years to come. We cannot wait to see the Huskies here in December."
Bridgeport Mayor and UConn graduate Bill Finch also weighed in on the good news.
"This is a very important day for the city of Bridgeport," Finch said. "I couldn't be more excited to welcome my alma mater to the Webster Bank Arena. This is a great arena. This is not just about a basketball game, this is about economic development in the city of Bridgeport and this is about the children of the state of Connecticut. There isn't a better place you can go to school than the University of Connecticut. It's a great institution and we love it dearly and we are so proud we were able to put this together."
Geno Auriemma and the UConn women will come to Webster Bank Arena on Jan. 11 2014 and face American Athletic Conference foe Temple. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.