THE KNICK: POST-DEBUT REVIEW DESPITE GLITCHES, ARENA WITHSTANDS FIRST NIGHT

Michael McKeon Staff writer
Section: LOCAL,  Page: B1

Date: Thursday, February 1, 1990

With a successful grand opening under their belts, the people who run the Knickerbocker Arena were feeling pretty good on Wednesday.


But rather than resting on their laurels, Spectacor Management Inc. employees, as well as the contractors working on the $68.6 million arena, were back at work just hours after the opening festivities ended. "There are always some catches but nothing that was noticeable to the public," Howard Urick, who planned the black-tie receptions before and after Frank Sinatra's memorable opening act, said Wednesday afternoon as he struggled with an electrical cord. "Really, everything went fantastic."


Urick said more than 1,600 people attended the receptions and many were still partying in corporate suites when he left the building at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, though the bulk of the crowd had filed out by 1 a.m.


"There is nothing they couldn't do with this place - if they can get the business," said Urick, who came in from Maryland to work on the event for ARA Leisure Services, which runs the food concessions in the arena. "The facilities here are very good."


Throughout the arena, workers were stacking tables, folding chairs, sweeping up or working on the still- unfinished retail stores set to open in the building's front entrance by July.


While Sinatra draws an older crowd - as Bill Cosby probably will on Friday night - the first real test for all aspects of the arena operations probably will come during Saturday night's sold-out performance for rocker Tom Petty, General Manager Patrick Lynch said.


The younger and enthusiastic crowds most likely will present more of a challenge for the security guards both inside and outside the arena, he said.


Along with more the sedate crowd expected for Cosby Friday and the rock and rollers at the Petty concert Saturday, the arena also will have an open house and an Albany Patroons basketball game on Sunday marking its first full weekend of operations.


"We'll have some different crowds in there this weekend but I think the building will handle that crowd as well as it did the black-tie crowd," said Michael Polovina, Albany County's project manager for the arena's construction.


Polovina said there were seven small condensation leaks on Tuesday night that required minor repairs. As for the up escalators, Polovina said they were intentionally turned off to slow the pace of people going to the second level of the front entrance as a crowd-control device.


"Everything went well, very well," he said. "It was remarkable, being involved in the project from the beginning in the very early planning through the design and construction, to see it finally function - and it functioned very nicely."