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At Hershey's Giant Center, music now apparently takes precedence over athletics.

For the second time in the past month, District 3 has made a late change to its championship slate because a concert has been scheduled at the Giant Center.

Wednesday, District 3 announced on its website that Reading's Santander Arena will now play host to three of its big-school basketball championship games on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Class 6-A and 5-A girls' title games and the 6-A boys' championship contest are now set for the Reading facility. The 5-A girls' final will start at 4:30 p.m., followed by the 6-A girls' final at 6:15 p.m. and the 6-A boys' final at 8 p.m.

Those three games were originally scheduled on March 1 at the Giant Center, but that date was filled by a Shinedown concert. That prompted District 3 officials to seek another championship venue. A meeting with Santander Arena management resulted in an agreement for Santander to host the games.

Less than a month ago, District 3 officials announced that the 2019 District 3 Individual Wrestling Championships would be moved from the Giant Center to the neighboring Hersheypark Arena on Feb. 22-23. The reason for that move was also a concert scheduled for the Giant Center. That concert will be by Luke Combs. The Giant Center had held the district individual wrestling event the past two years.

Dave Bitting, the District 3 basketball chairman and the athletic director at Lower Dauphin High School, put a positive spin on the latest change.  

"This marquee evening of hoops will be played in a spectacular venue in front of the basketball-crazed fans of Berks County," Bitting said on the District 3 website.

The Giant Center and Santander Arena are similar facilities, although the Giant Center is significantly larger, with a capacity of 10,500, compared to a capacity of just more than 7,100 for Santander Arena. The Giant Center opened in 2002, while Santander Arena opened in 2001. Hersheypark Arena, by contrast, is a much older facility, built in 1936 with a capacity of just more than 7,200.

For any York-Adams League teams that reach the District 3 finals on Friday, March 1, the change in venue will mean significantly longer trips. The trip to Hershey from York is about 36 miles, while the trip to Santander Arena is about 58 miles.

The remaining District 3 basketball championship games will be played at the Giant Center as previously scheduled. Below is the complete 2019 District 3 basketball championship game schedule:

Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Hershey's Giant Center

Class 2-A girls, 4:30 p.m.

Class 2-A boys, 6:15 p.m.

Class 3-A boys, 8 p.m.

 Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Hershey's Giant Center

Class 1-A boys, 4:30 p.m.

Class 3-A girls, 6:15 p.m.

Class 4-A boys, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 28, at Hershey's Giant Center

Class 1-A girls, 4:30 p.m.

Class 4-A girls, 6:15 p.m.

Class 5-A boys, 8 p.m.
  
Friday, March 1, at Reading's Santander Arena

Class 5-A girls, 4:30 p.m.

Class 6-A girls, 6:15 p.m.

Class 6-A boys, 8 p.m.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.

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