Two Big 4 college basketball teams will play a game at KeyBank Center this season.
The Canisius College athletic department announced Wednesday that the Golden Griffins will face St. Bonaventure University in a nonconference game at the downtown arena at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 23.
The game originally was scheduled to be played at the Koessler Athletic Center, and is part of a doubleheader that starts at noon at KeyBank Center between the Daemen College and Wilmington University men’s basketball teams.
While Big 4 doubleheaders involving the men’s basketball teams from the University at Buffalo, Niagara University , Canisius and St. Bonaventure aren’t on the radar for the immediate future, Canisius athletic director Bill Maher told The News earlier this month that there’s community interest in playing men’s basketball at KeyBank Center, the home of the Buffalo Sabres, which will also host NCAA Tournament first- and second-round games in March of 2022.
“There is a collective willingness to have a discussion,” Maher said. “That’s ebbed and flowed. The resistance has ebbed and flowed at different schools over the course of that period of time, too. How do we build something? But I think [Bona athletic director] Tim [Kenney] hit it right on. It has to be something the community is willing to embrace.”
Kenney told The News earlier this month that it would be open to bringing its basketball team to a game at KeyBank Center, given the proximity of Buffalo to its campus and the school's significant alumni base in the Buffalo area.
This will be Canisius’ 48th regular-season game played at a downtown Buffalo venue since 1996, and the first time Canisius has played at KeyBank Center since Dec. 17, 2016, when the Griffs beat UB 94-87 in overtime. Bona last played at KeyBank Center on the same day, defeating Niagara 79-69 in a Big 4 doubleheader.
Canisius and Bona have met at either the Aud, Marine Midland Arena or HSBC Arena 73 times since the 1940-41 season, but this is the first time in 11 years that Canisius and St. Bonaventure will face each other at KeyBank Center. The Golden Griffins defeated the Bonnies 68-66 on Nov. 28, 2008, when the arena was called HSBC Arena.
Canisius also scheduled the game at KeyBank Center as part of the 150th anniversary of the college.